Last updated January 2, 2015

The secret to this salad is hominy because it gives this dish an earthy flavor like corn tortillas. With Zestuous flavors like poblano peppers, sweet crunchy apples, pumpkin seeds and a cumin vinaigrette, this salad is fresh, fulfilling and under 300 calories.

I can’t believe I haven’t shared a new recipe with you in more than a month. It’s been a crazy few weeks. I left my job, welcomed my husband home from Afghanistan, moved to Las Vegas, painted some rooms, laid hardwood floors, met my team at my new job, said farewell to my hubby as he flew abroad to finish out his tour and spent a few days entertaining my parents.

Today is the first time that I felt like life had slowed down to the normal pace I lived in Texas. While I miss my friends at Fort Hood, I am so excited to be back in Vegas.

I have lived here on and off for 8 years, and while things continue to change, nothing beats the food scene.

I’ve enjoyed some fabulous meals out, made new connections as a food blogger and learned that a couple of my food blog friends plan to visit Vegas soon.

Unfortunately, one of the things that has changed is that one of my favorite restaurants ~ El Jefe’s ~ is no longer in business. I used to love going there for Mexican chopped chicken salad, fried rock shrimp and mushroom quesadillas with tamarind-chipotle sauce.

It was a ritual to enjoy their food with a margarita or mojito whenever I came home.

The owner, Douglas Reichardt, passed away back in 2005, but the restaurant remained open. I think it closed in 2010 while I was in Belgium.

Being home just wasn’t the same without an El Jefe’s Chopped Chicken Salad. Fortunately, I was able to find the menu listing online:

Diced chicken breast with chopped romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, granny smith apples, hominy, roasted poblano peppers and pepitas, tossed with cumin vinaigrette.

So…just as I’ve done with other restaurant menu items that I miss from former Army assignments, I recreated this dish.

It calls for hominy, which is basically corn kernels soaked in lye. They swell up, and are so good because the process pulls out such depth. I drain the can of hominy, rinse the kernels and spin them in my salad spinner.

The salad also calls for roasted poblano (pasilla) peppers. I find it easy to roast them right over a gas range, but if you don’t have gas, you can use a grill or even heat one in a 350-degree oven for 5-10 minutes, until soft.

If you’d like to keep this dish vegetarian, leave out the chicken, but if you like the added protein, you can grill, panfry or bake your chicken. I baked it in this recipe.

This recipe makes 6 servings. If you plan to serve it right away, toss in the dressing. If you plan to spread it out, toss the dressing just before serving.

Enjoy! I’m happy to be back. Stay tuned for more recipes.

Mexican Chopped Chicken Salad

Yield: 6 servings

Mexican Chopped Chicken Salad


    Cumin Vinaigrette
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup champagne vinegar
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • Mexican Chopped Chicken Salad
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • ½ cup red onion
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 1 poblano (pasilla) pepper
  • 1 29-oz. can hominy
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 chicken breasts (optional)
  • ½ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients.

Chop the chicken and toss with one tablespoon of the dressing. Spread on a baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Chop the lettuce, onion and apple, and place them in a large bowl.

Place the pepper on a grill or gas stove and char. Remove the top and seeds, chop and add to salad.

Drain the hominy and rinse the kernels. Add them to the salad.

Dice the tomatoes, removing the seeds and add to salad.

Add the cooled cooked chicken breast and pepitas and toss with dressing when ready to serve.