Crunchy Black Bean Chicken Salad

A dish so heavenly…it could only be photographed from above.

crunchy black bean chicken saladNo, but seriously.  Let’s say you’re looking to make food once…but take it to work every day for lunch.  Or let’s say you’re trying to impress people at a potluck.  Or let’s say you really love Mexican food…but need to express it in new ways.
crunchy black bean chicken saladLet me help you.  Let me help you with this really easy dish.  Let me help you realize that delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated.  Just chop…and combine.  Start with peppers.  Some green bell, some minced jalapeno. MINCED!  This is raw pepper, you’re not cooking the heat out of it.
IMG_7312aKitchen confession:  when I first started adjusting to onions (we weren’t always friends), I started with green onions and I separated the layers to spread the flavor out.  Now I do it because I think it’s prettier.  No one has to know.
IMG_7313aThis salad is full of green!  Avo balances out all the crunch.
IMG_7317aNow, this salad is perfectly good in its vegetarian form.  Probably the superior potluck salad.  Oh – another potluck tip:  red pepper adds fun colors!  But as a complete lunch, I’m looking for a little more protein.  In this case, I’m opting for lean chicken breasts.  Grilled, if you can swing it.
grilled chickenCooked, rested, and shredded or chopped.  Once again I find myself operating at capacity for the small bowl I’ve chosen.
crunchy black bean chicken saladBut oh no!  We’re not done yet.  This salad still needs some dressing.  EVOO with cilantro and lime?  You’re speaking my language…let’s slip a little cumin and chili powder in there, just for kicks.
cilantro lime dressingAnd just when you think it can’t get any better…you try the leftovers and realize the flavors have all melded into your new favorite side dish.  Now, I was fully prepared to tell you that you need to switch out the celery for corn…but the celery just worked.  You can still skip the celery in favor of corn, or you can give yourself the best of both worlds and include both, but either way you can’t go wrong.

Crunchy Black Bean Chicken Salad

Crunchy Black Bean Chicken Salad

Crunchy Black Bean Chicken Salad is versatile dish well-suited as a main course (for wraps or over rice) or a side dish, and can easily be made vegetarian. It's full of fresh flavors and topped off with a cilantro-lime dressing.


  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 jalapeno, deseeded and deveined
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 avocado
  • 3-5 green onions
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 limes, both zest and juice
  • 1/2 c. cilantro, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder


  1. Cook the chicken breasts on the stovetop until no longer pink in the thickest part. I like to start these over a higher heat (around 6 or 7 out of 9 on my stove) and then after both sides are lightly browned, turn the stove down to 4 or 5 and let them cook through. Since they are going to get chopped up I don't mind slicing them a little bit to check doneness so I can pull them off the stove as soon as they're done. Let them rest while the rest of the veggies get chopped up.
  2. Chop the bell peppers, mince the jalapenos finely. Add them to the bowl. Add the drained beans, chop and add the avocado, chop and add the green onions and celery. Mix it all up.
  3. Either chop or shred the chicken breasts and add them to the bowl.
  4. Mix up the rest of the ingredients to make the dressing. Pour over the salad and turn the salad until everything is well coated. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors marry. If possible, make a day ahead.

adapted from kalyns kitchen

crunchy black bean chicken saladThis salad is great on its own, but it also makes a great filler for wraps if you need a no-utensil lunch.  Leftovers would be great in an omelet…or just eat as a cold salad.  It’s so versatile!

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