I am a sucker for spicy, crispy-fried buffalo chicken wings. I live for that chicken skin coated in a spicy, vinegary sauce, and dipped in creamy blue cheese dressing. Buffalo chicken is a great indulgence from time-to-time, but really not a dish that makes for the most healthful meal. Enter these Lighter Buffalo Chicken Salads. These babies combine all the flavors we know and love of the classic bar-staple wing, but in salad form with plenty of fresh and crunchy vegetables, crispy garlic croutons, spicy-sauced chicken, all drizzled with a light, Greek-yogurt based, blue cheese dressing.
Instead of delicious, dark meat, chicken wings, we use diced chicken breast cutting out the fat and calories found in that crispy skin. We replace the crunch factor with some homemade, garlic and olive oil croutons. To keep it classic we still use the buffalo wing sauce, minus all the butter. The creamy blue-cheese dressing also sticks around, I just lightened it up with Greek yogurt and low-fat milk in place of mayonnaise. Another classic addition to the romaine and tomatoes in this salad are thin slices of celery and carrot, the traditional side to all things Buffalo wings. All of this comes together to make a salad that has all the flavors and texture we love of Buffalo chicken wings, but with loads more veggies and minus the fat and calories. It’s really a win/win deal.
We start by making our own croutons. I love making croutons because they keep wonderfully all week, perfect for impromptu salad-making. To make, simply toss cubed, rustic bread (I like a baguette for this), with olive oil, grated garlic, and a pinch of salt. Everyone get toasted in the oven and voila--crunchy, delicious croutons!
Next, we mix up the dressing. You can even make this the day ahead. The flavors will meld together and get even better. Thick Greek yogurt and some low-fat milk get minced together with a bit of grated garlic, minced chives, salt, cayenne. Super simple and flavorful.
Then, we add in the blue cheese. I like to fold the cheese in gently so there are some hearty chunks left in the dressing. If you don't like blue cheese, you can sub in goat cheese crumbles or just go ahead and sprinkle some cheddar over the salads.
Then, it’s assembly time! I like to have everything prepped and ready to go in little bowls—I know it means more dishes to wash, but it also means quick and stress-free assembly. The ingredients are simple and fresh: lean chicken breast, crisp romaine, crunchy carrots and celery, sharp green onion, juicy tomatoes, garlic-y croutons, Buffalo sauce and creamy yogurt-blue cheese dressing.
After the assembly you have a meal-sized salad full of plenty of fresh veggies, lean protein, creamy dressing, and lots of spice.