When Shawn and I used to eat out (a frequent occurrence in our pre-children days when money was plentiful and bills were not), I would order Buffalo Chicken Salad whenever it was on the menu. I loved the crunch of the fried chicken, the spice of the buffalo wing sauce and the creamy coolness of the blue cheese. When you put a variety of flavors and textures like that together, it’s almost certain to please my senses.
Actually, if we are going to be super honest, just the mere act of putting buffalo wing sauce on salad at all makes me super happy. Something about the spicy tang flavor wrapped around the cool, crisp lettuce just does it for me. When I was fresh out of college, I would sometimes pack buffalo wing sauce as dressing for my lunch salads at work.
It’s been awhile since I last had a buffalo chicken salad though. Beyond the fact that eating out is a rare thing these days, I don’t often eat fried anything these days so it sort of fell off my taste-bud radar over the years. But when I recently bought buffalo wing sauce for a recipe I was developing for work, it was all I could think about. Before I even set foot in the store to buy the sauce, I had visions of this salad dancing in my head.
I decided to put a simplified spin on it that takes the finer points of the salad making it a little more waist-friendly and a little speedier to whip up.
The salad is built on a bed of baby lettuce, which are tiny whole leaves of lettuce — a fork-friendly option. Choose one you love — it’s important. I usually go for a mesclun mix or a baby romaine. That’s topped with cubed leftover chicken such as rotisserie chicken, sweet red bell pepper, crisp celery and creamy blue cheese crumbles. Then it’s drizzled with spicy buffalo wing sauce and tangy vinaigrette. Oh, bliss on a plate and it only takes a few minutes to put it all there.
When I was making this, I was concerned that I might miss the crunch of the fried chicken. But I didn’t — the cubed chicken gives that necessary poultry flavor without negating the natural goodness of salad. If you really want a little more crunch though, some chopped walnuts could totally do it.
This salad is a perfect update of my old favorite — and so incredibly easy that it can be whipped up in minutes. Really, minutes.
Do you have a favorite restaurant meal that you don’t eat as often anymore? What is it?
Buffalo Chicken Salad
2 cups baby lettuce (variety of your choice)
1/2 cup cooked diced chicken, such as from a rotisserie bird
1 celery rib, cut in half length-wise and into 2-inch pieces
4 strips red sweet bell pepper, halved
1 tbsp crumbled blue cheese
1 tbsp buffalo wing sauce
1 tbsp vinaigrette
Arrange the lettuce on a plate. Top with chicken, celery, sweet bell pepper and blue cheese. Drizzle with buffalo wing sauce and then vinaigrette.