Years ago, I lived in Southern California when a restaurant called “The Cheesecake Factory” was on the rise. Don’t get me wrong, I have a love of all things cheesecake, but the meal that kept bringing me back was their Southern Fried Chicken Salad. They have long removed it from their menu (I won’t tell you how long so as to protect my delicate ego), but I’ve recreated the recipe for use in my own home. While I love all things decadent about this salad, it is easily adapted to a healthier version. This is a great recipe for the middle of summer when fresh market produce abounds.
The last time I ate this salad in the restaurant was on a trip back when I was in college. At that time, a very holy woman gave me some great advice. She said, “When you are in school, I pay. When you start working, we split the bill. When I retire, you pick up the tab.” It was a beautiful and graceful statement of community and generosity.
Southern Fried Chicken Salad
- 4-5 chicken fingers (frozen and cooked or cooked from the deli – grilled is also an option), sliced
- 2-3 ears of corn, stripped (or a can of corn)
- 1/4 red onion, minced
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 1 bag shredded romaine or chopped romaine hearts
- Candied pecans or walnuts (optional)
- Ranch dressing
Mix all ingredients but chicken, romaine, nuts and dressing. Pour mixture over top of shredded lettuce. Top with chicken and pecans, then dressing.
Homemade Spicy Ranch Dressing
- 1 tbsp. dried Ranch mix
- 1 c. mayonnaise
- 1/2 c. buttermilk (I’ve also used thinned out plain yogurt)
- 1/4 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper
- 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Mix all ingredients together and let sit for 1 hour before serving.