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Buffalo Chicken Salad

Back in grad school when I started compulsively watching The Food Network, Racheal Ray’s 30 Minute Meals was one of my favorite cooking shows. I was a cooking novice, so her familiar ingredients, straightforward cooking techniques, and quick preparation of meals appealed to me. I had just moved in with John at that point, and most of Rachael’s dishes were comprised of foods we both liked. I was also drawn to her spunky personality and down-to-earth vibe.

That was then.

Now, I rarely watch Rachael’s new cooking show and I stay as far away from her talk show as I can. I suppose you could say I’ve joined the ranks of folks who can’t stand Racheal Ray. In order to keep this post from becoming a rant, I will refrain from listing her traits that I now find incessantly obnoxious. What I will do is admit that I still enjoy browsing through, and gaining inspiration from, Rachael’s recipes. This Buffalo Chicken Salad was inspired by not one, but two of her recipes.

Ever since I became a buffalo sauce fan convert, I’ve been keeping an eye out for recipes featuring the spicy condiment.  While sifting through Food Network’s online compilation of recipes, I stumbled upon a salad concocted by none other than RR. The salad (linked below) was comprised of buffalo sauce-drenched chicken, crisp romaine lettuce, crunchy carrots, ranch salad dressing, and blue cheese.

I knew instantaneously that this was the kind of salad that John and I would both enjoy as a light dinner.  I researched recipes for homemade ranch dressing, and found a recipe by RR (also linked below) that could easily be adapted to fit my nutrition standards. The combination of low fat buttermilk and 2% plain Greek yogurt was the perfect base mixture for fresh herbs and crumbled blue cheese; the finished product was a rich, flavorful, slightly tangy, and healthy ranch-blue cheese dressing hybrid.

If you’re looking for a man-approved entree salad, look no further. When served with a few whole wheat rolls to round out the meal, this Buffalo Chicken Salad is sure to fill you up while keeping you light.

Thanks, Rachael Ray.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

inspired by Rachael Ray

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chopped romaine hearts
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cup homemade buttermilk ranch dressing (recipe follows)*
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, plus more for garnish if desired
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce (add more if desired)
  • 1/4 cup canned tomato sauce

Directions:

  1. Combine chopped lettuce and shredded carrots in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. Combine 1/2 cup homemade buttermilk ranch dressing and blue cheese crumbles in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to heated pan, and cook until done, about 4 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, cut chicken into bite-sized pieces. Reduce stove heat to low.
  5. Melt butter in the skillet and stir in Worcestershire, hot sauce, and tomato sauce. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Add the cooked chicken to the buffalo sauce, and stir to coat evenly.
  6. Toss the lettuce and carrots with the dressing, and top with the buffalo chicken pieces and additional crumbled blue cheese, if using.

*Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

adapted from Rachael Ray

yields 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped chives
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

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