Texas BBQ Beans and Chicken Salad

Cook’s notes: I had a craving for barbecue dressing and found a great recipe online. The original salad included pork bacon, hard-boiled eggs, avocado, and pecans. I adapted it to make my own version. This meal salad is still quite hearty, with a barbecue vinaigrette dressing, chicken, beans, vegetarian bacon strips, and a light touch of shredded cheese.

About the vegetarian bacon: No, it doesn’t taste at all like real bacon, but I cannot eat or digest pork (food intolerance). The “fakin’ bacon” cooks up crispy and crumbles easily, making it perfect for topping a salad (it’s also delicious on a croissant with scrambled eggs and a slice of melted American cheese, if you need a high-fat breakfast. But I digress.)

Make the salad purely vegetarian: Omit the chicken and use 3 oz of roasted vegetables, such as squash and zucchini, instead. Vegans can use soy-based cheese or leave it out altogether. As a bonus, the dressing can also be used on tortellini salad (link).

Salad: Serves one
4 cups lettuce mix
3 oz shredded, cooked chicken (or roasted vegetables)
1/2 cup cooked Santa Fe beans (leftover canned beans)
2 pieces veggie bacon, cooked and crumbled (MorningStar brand)
1 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons Barbecue Vinaigrette (see below)

Estimated nutritional values:
11 g fiber; dietary exchanges of 4 vegetables, 0.7 dairy, and 4 oz protein.

Barbecue Vinaigrette
Makes about 12 oz. The dressing has less vinegar than usual, because barbecue sauce contains vinegar.

3/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup dark balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce (I used Stubb’s brand without corn syrup)
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder (I use Garlic Garni brand)
1 teaspoon Taco Seasoning Mix
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

Place the vinaigrette ingredients in a lidded jar. Seal well, and shake vigorously until thoroughly blended.

Dressing recipe adapted from Jana Lane