Cilantro Pepita Chicken Salad

A quick, filling meal that tastes like you cooked way longer than you did.

cilantro pepita chicken salad

Cilantro Pepita Chicken Salad is delicious with rotisserie chicken or last night’s BBQ chicken breasts – the creamy dressing and fresh flavors make leftovers new again.

Article Courtesy:  Alison Needham

So hey, it’s tax day! It’s always a slightly harrowing  experience for us, these tax days. One thing that we’ve learned is that procrastination doesn’t make the filing deadline disappear. Sadly, year after year, it sits before us like some enormous crap-shoot;  Will we owe money? Will we get it back? And also usually, where is that form? Those receipts?

My husband, bless his heart, deals with it all, spending long hours hunkering at his desk under piles and piles of paperwork. I sit helplessly by, trying not to bite my nails off as I wait for the final tally. To keep myself busy, I putz in the kitchen–and truly, someone needs to feed the man so he can keep at it, right?

I rummage through the leftovers in the fridge and pull out some corn tortillas, last night’s barbecued chicken, a few lettuce leaves, and the cilantro pepita dressing from two nights ago. I spot a ripe avocado in the fruit bowl. Mindlessly, I tear off a chunk of cold chicken and dredge it through the dressing, uncertain as to what I’m going to make. Yes!

The chicken wants the dressing. The chicken needs the dressing. The chicken practically begs to be smothered in the dressing. What can I do but give the chicken what it wants?

Hurriedly I cut the breasts into chunks and toss them in a bowl along with the fresh, nutty cilantro pepita sauce. The tortillas, I sliver, and fry up in sheen of sputtering olive oil. I line a platter with lettuce leaves, spoon over the saucy chicken and add some avocado slices for good measure. I top it all with the shoestring tortilla strips, which add a pleasing crunch. Lunch is served!

Now sated, my beleaguered accountant husband can get back to the fun business of taxes. See? I’m being super helpful and you totally couldn’t do it without me…right, Sweetie? Right.




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This Cilantro Pepita Salad makes leftover chicken or store-bought rotisserie new again.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: A Girl Defloured, avocado, beet salad, chicken recipes, gluten-free salad
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 1088kcal
Author: Alison Needham


For the Dressing:

  • 1 bunch of cilantro chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper chopped (seeded and de-veined, if desired)
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/4 cup roasted pepitas Mexican pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup water if needed
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Salad:

  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
  • 6 large lettuce leaves
  • 1 avocado peeled and sliced
  • 2 gluten-free corn tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • Make the dressing. Place the cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, pepitas, vinegar, Parmesan cheese, and mayo in a blender. Pulse to puree. If necessary, drizzle in a little water to get it to a pour-able consistency. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper.
  • Toss the chicken breast in about 1/2 cup of the dressing. Add more if necessary to evenly coat the chicken. Set aside and reserve the remaining dressing for another use.
  • Sliver the corn tortillas. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. When it begins to shimmer, add the tortilla strips and cook until crisp and golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  • Place the lettuce leaves on a platter. Top with chicken, avocado and finally the tortilla strips. Serve immediately.


Calories: 1088kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 50g | Fat: 73g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 821mg | Potassium: 3111mg | Fiber: 29g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 8550IU | Vitamin C: 64.6mg | Calcium: 486mg | Iron: 9.6mg


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