Tex-Mex chicken salad with southwestern vinaigrette

As an accompaniment to this salad, it's hard to beat warmed flour tortillas.

Salad

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

8 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast halves

Dash of pepper, or to taste

One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 large tomato, cut into ½-inch cubes

½ red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

2 medium scallions, coarsely chopped

¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (do not substitute dried cilantro; if fresh is unavailable, substitute fresh basil)

 

Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ teaspoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon pepper, or to taste

Pinch of ground cumin, or to taste

 

To complete the recipe

4 cups mixed greens or mesclun

Garnish (optional): sprigs of fresh cilantro

 

Stir together the olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl.

Heat a stovetop grill pan over high heat. Brush one side of each chicken breast with about half of the oil-juice mixture. Reduce the heat to medium-high and arrange the chicken on the grill, oiled sides down; cook for about 5 minutes. Brush the tops with the remaining oil-juice mixture; turn and continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is lightly browned and cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and sprinkle with pepper. Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, toss together the beans, corn, tomato, bell pepper, green chilies, scallions, and cilantro in a large salad bowl.

Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Add the vinaigrette to the bean-corn mixture and toss lightly. Add the chicken; toss again. For each salad, mound some of the chicken salad mixture on a bed of greens.

Advance preparation

The vinaigrette will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator. The salad can be made early the day it is to be served. Prepare with only half of the dressing and add the remainder just before serving.

Variation

Substitute other beans for the black beans (up to 1 2/3 cups total). Try garbanzos or canellini beans.

Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.