Crunchy Creamy Chopped Southwestern Salad from the Divas of Dish

Written By Pam Brandon and Anne-Marie Denicole On April 22, 2013

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As temps and hemlines rise, the divas rally ’round the green stuff. Gone are the days when unwieldy cuts of iceberg, tomato and cucumber ruled the bowl, today we are tossing in all things edible: cooked, raw, blanched or toasted with creamy and non-creamy dressings, preferably fresh. 

We love this chopped salad for its crunchy texture. Cabbage replaces softer lettuces, along with sweet-crisp jicama, scallions, peppers, chilies, lots of fresh cilantro and pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds). Substitute the chicken breast for lime-marinated grilled shrimp, or serve the salad simply, as a side dish or veggie entree. 

To go with, we’re whisking up a from-scratch creamy cilantro dressing. As with any dish, we encourage your creativity. Inspired add-ons might include a drizzle of low-sugar barbecue sauce, corn relish, tortilla strips or crumbled cotija cheese.

Creamy Cilantro Dressing

Makes about 1 1/3 cups


1 cup mayonnaise or plain, whole-milk yogurt

1/3 cup whole milk

Juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon minced fresh onion

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

6 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Best if made ahead an hour or two before serving.


Crunchy Creamy Chopped Southwestern Salad

Serves 4-6


4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally into 8 cutlets

Juice of 3 limes

4 tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 cups finely chopped green cabbage

6 scallions, thinly sliced

1 large bell pepper, any color, seeded and diced

1 cup diced jicama

2 large carrots, peeled and grated

1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped, stems removed

1/4 cup toasted pepitas

1 or 2 serrano chilies, thinly sliced, optional

Marinate chicken, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a large ziptop bag for at least 30 minutes. 

As chicken marinates, prepare the salad. In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, scallions, bell pepper, jicama, carrots, cilantro, pepitas and chilies, if using. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat grill to medium-high heat and grill chicken 4 to 5 minutes each side or until juices run clear. Be careful not to overcook. Cover and keep warm.  


To serve, toss salad with dressing and top with chicken. 

Diva Confession:  Throw a little extra chicken on the grill while it’s hot – kids love it sliced into flour tortillas with lots of gooey cheese or on a bun served burger style.  And though fresh is always best, if you’re time-crunched, make this salad with prepared coleslaw mix. (If you do, omit the carrots, as the mix likely will include.) And make your favorite bottled salad dressing your own by whisking in fresh herbs, mashed avocado, minced fresh chilies or salsa. 

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