Healthy Southwest Chicken and Arugula Salad features grilled corn and zucchini, black beans, tiny tomatoes, and creamy Cilantro Jalapeño Ranch Dressing… a perfect way to use the late-summer bounty of zucchini, tomatoes, and corn! Rotisserie chicken makes it super quick and easy!
Is it still summer in your “neck of the woods?” I often refer to our locale as “the land of eternal summer.” While I look forward to somewhat cooler weather in the weeks and months ahead, I’m still cooking food on the lighter (and cooler) side!
For some of you, though, summer has slipped away, and you might be more interested in my Mexican Shrimp Boil or Instant Pot Pork and Hatch Chile? Perhaps you’re mourning the loss of the long, warm summer days…
When summer gathers up her robes of glory, And, like a dream, glides away.
~~ Sarah Helen Whitman
Given my propensity for focusing on warm-weather fare, I felt compelled to bring you this delicious, healthy, super quick and easy recipe before it became ridiculous… Haha.
About Southwest Chicken and Arugula Salad
Grilling the vegetables isn’t a requirement. The extra flavor boost provided by the grilling process (aka maillard reaction) is worth the time. If you love raw zucchini (I do), and you’re okay with thawed and rinsed frozen corn, that’s always an option.
I usually use the breast from a rotisserie chicken for this dish, but any cooked chicken will work. Often my husband will grill a couple of extra chicken breasts for lunches or a second meal, and that’ll work too!
You’ll need about 2 cups of cooked black beans. My preference is always the cooked and then frozen black beans in my freezer, but canned black beans are a pantry staple and an item that I use often in my recipes when I don’t have my own.
Don’t care for black beans? Substitute your favorite beans, or omit them entirely…
Vegetables can be a polarizing ingredient for some. I rarely meet a vegetable I don’t love. Because this main dish salad has a Mexican or southwest vibe, I chose the usual suspects – zucchini, corn, and tomatoes. Again, substitute your favorites.
On photo day, my avocado was not up to snuff, and had to be relegated to the trash can. 😢Avocados are definitely a tasty addition to your Chicken and Arugula Salad!
Lastly, the dressing is key to the flavor profile of this simple salad. My Cilantro Jalapeño Ranch dressing requires only a few minutes of your time, and it totally makes the dish. I’ve included the recipe here.
Making Southwest Chicken and Arugula Salad
As “Summer” draws to a close (in just 10 calendar days!), are you looking forward to pulling out sweaters, cooking hearty soups and stews, raking leaves? My husband and I are looking forward to the grass (and weeds) slowing down a bit. Lol.
- 2 small ears fresh corn
- 1 large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise twice
- 1 15 ounces can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup tiny tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 cups cubed or diced chicken breast (see notes)
- 5 ounces arugula
- Cilantro Jalapeño Ranch Dressing (recipe below)
- Prep the corn for the grill. Get it started, then prep the zucchini for the grill. I recommend about 20 minutes to grill corn, turning frequently. The zucchini needs about 10 minutes.
- Make the Cilantro and Jalapeño Ranch.
- Add the arugula to a large salad bowl.
- Cube the chicken, and add to the salad.
- Prep the tomatoes. Add the beans and tomatoes.
- While the corn cools, cube the zucchini. I cut the halved zucchini in half lengthwise one more time. Then cut crosswise about 3/4" thick. Add to the salad.
- Cut the corn from the cobs and add them to the salad.
- Toss everything together with the dressing. Enjoy!
I make this salad in under 30 minutes. My husband grills the squash and corn while I make the dressing and prep the other ingredients.
I love rotisserie chicken, and keep it on hand for lunches throughout the week, and then make stock with the carcass. I prefer the breast meat for this salad. You can grill chicken breast alongside the corn (it requires similar time) if you prefer.
If you are really in a hurry, you don't have to use grilled veggies (they do taste good!). Use your favorites.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 340 Total Fat: 8g Carbohydrates: 30g Protein: 31g
- 1 cup low fat buttermilk
- 2 tbsp. olive oil mayonnaise, (see notes)
- 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp. lime juice
- 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 jalapeno, stem and seeds removed, cut in chunks
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, stems removed
- several snips of fresh chives or 1 minced shallot
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- several grinds pepper
- Add all dressing ingredients to the bowl of your blender.
- Pulse 2-3 times. Give it a good shake. Repeat until smooth.
- Either toss with the salad, or serve in a cruet alongside the salad.
I love to make my own olive oil mayonnaise, but I certainly keep a good commercially prepared one in my refrigerator. Salad dressings need a little bit of fat; fats aid in the absorption of some nutrients, and make the ingredients taste better too!
Frozen and thawed corn is fine, but grilled corn cut off the cob is better.
Creamy dressings will keep in your refrigerator for several days - if they last that long!
The recipe includes the salad ingredients for reference only.
Calories are for the dressing only.
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Serving Size:16 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 15