Before I met my husband I was somewhat of a workaholic. I loved what I was doing and gave it my all, working long hours to climb the corporate ladder only to then work even harder to prove I was worthy of those promotions. Coming home exhausted every day, I would almost always throw a salad together for dinner as it was easy, fast, and hard to mess up. The contents of my fridge during those days was what you would expect from a career-obsessed single woman — most of the time pretty bare except for some yogurt, baby carrots, hummus, some ketchup and mustard, and occasionally a stray Lean Cuisine panini in the freezer. I remember when my husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, opened my fridge once and teased me that there was nothing in there but a Brita water filter and five different bottles of salad dressing (all Ken’s brand, of course) clanging against the door shelf. Ahh, single life 🙂 I’m glad he didn’t hold it against me that I wasn’t much of a cook then.
After a few dates, my husband and I realized we had mutual love for the restaurant Houston’s, part of the Hillstone restaurant group. Oh my goodness, I’m dreaming of their burger now. My favorite is the Hickory Burger and my husband loves getting their “secret” off menu Flying Chicken Platter, and we never pass up their spinach and artichoke dip. No matter what we order, we always leave satisfied and happy since everything is absolutely delicious. On one of our dates we checked out Bandera which is also owned by the same company. While there are some common mainstays you can find across many of the Hillstone restaurants, each brand does have something distinctive about them. Bandera’s specialty is their succulent rotisserie meats. Our favorite dish at Bandera by far is the Macho Salad. While we usually like to order plates to share, every time we go to Bandera we both get our own order of the Macho Salad. If you love the Hillstone restaurant group like we do, you’ll know that is a bold commitment since there are always so many great options to choose from. A perfectly made cheeseburger with hand cut fries? A to-die-for French dip sandwich? Perhaps a Rutherford prime rib staring back at you from the menu? It’s so hard to choose, like choosing your favorite child or choosing your favorite N’Sync member. So sticking with the Macho Salad each and every time should really tell you something about how great it really is. After we moved to China, we realized we missed and took for granted so many things. Things like the Macho Salad. So I decided to try to recreate it at home.
Maybe the reason they call it the Macho Salad is because it’s got everything in it, and I love every component: the fresh kernels of corn, the creamy avocado, the juicy cherry tomatoes, the toasted almonds providing a perfect crunch, the surprise sweetness from the chopped dates, the lush bed of fresh greens, all topped with a tangy vinaigrette. It’s the perfect hearty dinner salad.
It’s also a great way to use up any left over rotisserie chicken. To be honest, I usually pick up a rotisserie chicken just so I can have leftovers to make this salad the next day. Using fresh corn during the summer is great since it’s so crisp and sweet during this time.
The original Macho Salad uses goat cheese and since I’m still coming around on goat cheese, I usually substitute it with shredded monterey jack cheese or in this case I tried it with pepper jack cheese to spice things up. So whatever floats your boat. Bandera’s croutons are made from corn bread but I made a simple version from baguette. Making a little extra dressing is great too if you want to keep it for the next day or it might even work well as a marinade. I hope your love flourishes over this salad too, as it did for me and my husband. 🙂
Prep time: 30 min | Serves: 4
For the salad:
3 cups lettuces (200 g romaine or baby mixed lettuces of your choice)
1/2 cup rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
8 medjool dates, roughly chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 cup fresh corn kernels, raw
1/2 cup slivered almonds, roasted
goat cheese or shredded cheese such as monterey jack
green onions, sliced
1. Toss all the ingredients in a large bowl and then slowly drizzle and mix in the dressing to taste.
For the croutons:
5-6 inch piece of baguette
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Heat a pan over low heat. Cut the baguette into 1 inch chunks. In a bowl drizzle olive oil over baguette pieces and toss well (it should only have a light brushing of olive oil, not completely coated). Add a pinch of salt and toss.
2. Turn heat to medium and place the baguette pieces in the pan. Toss the croutons frequently for 8 minutes or until toasted. Remove and allow to cool.
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced
pinch dried basil
pinch dried oregano
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Combine all the ingredients except for the olive oil. Mix well. Slowly add the olive oil to the mixture while whisking. Refrigerate any leftovers.