As I was reading last month’s Better Homes and Gardens magazine, I came across a recipe I knew I was going to have to try because it looked like the most quintessential dish made from many Southern favorites; yet, all the ingredients were reinvented and transformed into a salad. I absolutely love finding new ways to use trusted Southern comfort food recipes! One of my favorite charcuterie boards I’ve ever done was on New Year’s Day when I created a graze board using many of the “lucky” foods that are always featured on dinner tables all across the Deep South. So, when I saw this salad recipe in BHG, I was intrigued and decided to make the same salad with just a few changes.
In the magazine, the recipe calls for mustard greens and Cajun-seasoned chicken. I opted for chopped kale because while I love a good pot of mustard greens that have been simmered down with a little bacon, I am not the biggest fan of them when they're raw. I also have to be careful with cayenne because I tend to be a little bit of a whimp when it comes to super spicy foods, so I made my own spice blend and will share it with you in just a moment.
I think my favorite thing about this salad is the black eye peas. I would have never thought to put them on a salad, but when they're paired with pickled okra, cornbread croutons, the super yummy chicken and the Dijon vinaigrette, the result is out-of-this-world good!
4 cups of day-old sweet cornbread, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
6 slices thick bacon, cooked and torn into thirds
1 pound chicken tenderloins, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1 cup canned black eyed peas, drained
8 cups chopped kale leaves, stems removed
8-10 pieces pickled okra
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread cornbread in a single layer on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and cumin. Bake 10-15 minutes, turning once or twice, until croutons are slightly crusty.
Season chicken with smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, dried oregano and fresh thyme leaves.
In the same skillet you used for cooking the bacon, add a drizzle of olive oil and cook chicken over medium-high until done and deep golden brown, turning once or twice while cooking. Remove chicken from skillet; cover to keep warm.
Make the dressing: Combine vinegar, mustard, olive oil and honey; mix until well combined.
Warm black eye peas in skillet for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat.
Spread kale on a large platter. Drizzle Dijon vinaigrette over kale leaves. Mix well. Top with chicken, black eye peas, bacon, pickled okra, and croutons.