Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Frugal Food: Southwest Chicken Salad

I was actually inspired to figure out this recipe when, last Friday, I picked up a salad much resembling this at Starbucks—I hadn't planned ahead for lunch, and I had money on a Starbucks card courtesy of my mom. I think I paid more than $5 for it. But I was disturbed by how easily and cheaply I could replicate it myself, and also by the lengthy list of unpronounceables rounding out the ingredient list. My version has none of them.

This one's going to be lunch for the week—the batch I've just whipped up should cover K and me for two lunches each, and then I'll do another batch Wednesday evening, for Thursday and Friday, with something different on Wednesday to break up the monotony (I find that three days in a row of the same lunch is just too much).

1 15-oz. can black beans ($.50—they were on sale)
1 15-oz. can corn kernels ($1.09—not on sale)
1 medium onion (I used a Vidalia because it was what I had) (about $.80)
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (or, really, whatever chicken you've got lying around) (I paid about $4 for 8, so let's say $2)
1 container of nonfat Greek yogurt ($2)

Drain the beans and corn, rinse, and combine. Chop up the onion in a rough dice; throw that in with the other ingredients. Cook the chicken in your preferred method—I marinated mine in some Greek yogurt and mustard briefly, seasoned with salt, pepper, and oregano, and grilled them up in my cast-iron skillet. When I do it again towards the middle of the week, I'll add cumin to the marinade. Cut the chicken into slices and toss them in, too. Toss. Combine some mustard (or mustard powder, or wasabi, or whatever you think would taste good that has some bite) with the remainder of the yogurt. Add mixture to bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Done! (I also added a splash of lime juice, just because it was in the fridge. I can't taste it, though.)

If you're using very lean chicken (i.e. breasts or "tenders"), I would add a splash of olive oil to the dressing, for balance and satiety's sake, but I used thighs, so they take care of themselves (aside from being deliciously tender and very absorbent of other flavors).

I expect this to make four lunches, which works out to a per-serving cost of about $1.60. Not too shabby for an easy, tasty, healthy lunch. It certainly beats Starbucks's price.

Like all of my recipes, this one is endlessly adaptable, so tell me if you hit on any particularly tasty variations!


Dr.Weirdo, PhD* said...

Thats a pretty good recipe I must say..I make something like this my self, but I think the beans and the corn kernels will give it a nice flavor.

Anonymous said...

we tried this one and it was excellent. and they say fresh onion is good in this cold season. just the chicken marinated and sauteed was a dream by itself. thank you.

Anonymous said...

This is also good without the chicken but with a little salsa mixed in as well. Then you can either eat it plain or wrap it in a tortilla.