It’s a rare day that I make something that Betsy simple won’t try. This was one of those days.
Her reasoning, which I don’t necessarily agree with but understand, is that I took two of her favorite things (tater tots and nachos) and essentially destroyed both of them and she refused to participate.
I saw it a bit differently. After all, it’s all the rage these days to make totchos which are traditional nachos but with tater tots. This recipe originally started as that, but then I figured I could take it a step further and do a taco salad, but with tots.
It’s sort of a classy meets trashy Tex-Mex dish that is surprisingly delicious even if my wife boycotted the meal on principal!
It turns out that the thing your salad was missing is tater tots.
Yield: 4 salads
1 pound boneless chicken, poached
2 dried chiles (New Mexico or Ancho)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 lime, juice only
Salt and pepper
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
16 ounces tots, baked until crispy
1 avocado, diced
1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
4-6 oz. cotija or farmers cheese
For the quick salsa:
Drain the tomatoes and stir together with minced peppers and jalapenos. Season with a bit of salt and let mingle until needed.
For the chicken:
Bring a medium pot of water to a simmer with a pinch of salt. Add chicken and dried chiles and poach until chicken is just cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove thicken and reserve maybe 1/2 cup of poaching water. Shred chicken.
Add chicken back to pot with reserved poaching water over medium-low heat. Remove and discard dried peppers and add spices. Stir chicken together and keep warm over low heat until needed.
Bake tots according to package. I prefer to bake mine for an extra 5-10 minutes so they are super crispy.
Chop lettuce and divide between plates. Top each salad with a small drizzle of salsa, then baked tots, then pulled chicken.
Top with another spoonful of salsa, crumbled cheese, avocado, drained and rinsed black beans, and cilantro. Season salad with a pinch of salad and serve more salsa on the side!
This recipe is fairly self-explanatory and you can make it your own, for sure. I wanted to put some protein on my salad though so I made up a quick batch of pulled chicken for the salad. This would be great on nachos or quesadillas or any Tex-Mex food.
Basically, just lightly poach boneless chicken in a medium pot with a few dried chiles. Once the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes, remove it and shred it into strands. Then add it back to the dry pot with about 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid and all the spices listed in the recipe.
It’s a simple pulled chicken but does pack a punch which I like since there are so many other toppings on the salad. Finish the pulled chicken off with some fresh lime juice and season it with salt and pepper to your liking.
A salad needs some sort of dressing right? I used a really quick salsa for mine and made sure to strain the salsa to remove as much liquid as possible. You don’t want it really runny or it will make the salad watery.
I just drained a can of diced tomatoes with some diced onion and jalapeno and seasoned it with a pinch of salt. No need to make it over-complicated.
You can really just bake the tots according to the directions on the package. You don’t need a ton for the recipe. About 8-10 tots per salad is a good guide and I like to add 5-10 minutes onto the baking time to make sure they are super-crispy.
Think of them almost like potato croutons.
To build the salad, just lay out a bed of chopped romaine lettuce and layer on a few tots.
It’s not pictured, but drizzle on a bit of salsa at this point too so the salsa gets down to the lettuce layer.
Then it’s just a game of piling on your other toppings: pulled chicken, diced avocado, crumbled cheese, drained (and rinsed) black beans, fresh cilantro, and more salsa on top.
It’s kind of hard to express how good this actually is, even if it sounds weird.
What do you think? Are you on Team Nick or Team Betsy here?
Can tots work in a salad? I say hell yes.