Now once upon a time, not too long ago..
I worked night shift.
One of the worst parts of night shift was the food selection. To be honest, most nights I ate Ramen noodles and Honey Buns from the vending machine. Not my finest moments…
But every now and again I just needed some good, wholesome food. Late at night in little ol’ Manheim, you’ve got one option; and it’s the Cat’s Meow.
Literally, it’s a bar. Called the Cat’s Meow.
I was hooked the first time I got the Surf and Turf burger (Crab + Beef + Brioche = <3). That thing was SO FREAKING DELICIOUS that it was gone in three bites. Three.
After ordering that every week for like two months, eventually I had to mix it up. I remember watching Dr. Oz that day and hearing that black beans are really good for you, so when I saw this Fiesta salad with black beans, I was like “omg I’m so healthy that’s what I’m getting.”
Meanwhile, I’m dying inside because it didn’t sound good at all (just like this might not!). I mean, corn and beans on a salad? Damn you, Dr. Oz!
To my surprise, I actually fell in love with this flavor combo. With the hot and cold, crunchy and soft, cheesy but fresh; it was so much different than any salad I had ever had and it was one of the dishes to really open my eyes to experiencing flavors I was afraid of.
I no longer work in, or ever visit Mannheim, so the Cat’s Meow isn’t practical anymore but I could not live my life without this salad. I make mine like a cobb, because I think they are super fun and pretty and there are tons of beautiful colors here, why not show them off?
The star of this show, by far, is the chicken. I prefer cold chicken on my salads, so I usually make this in advance; plus it makes for a quick dinner execution!
All you have to do is rub it in taco seasoning, place on a cast iron skill over medium-high heat to get that blackened look.
The only thing that you need to cook before assembly is the corn and beans, and this is just toasted. I don’t know if this is what they did at Cat’s, but I saw it on a Bobby Flay show and it looked delicious.
Always use fresh from the cob because this is Lancaster County, and it’s the best.
For the beans, I just used canned and heat them up in the skillet once the corn is toasted.
Do you really need a picture of that?
From there, it’s all about assembly and this is where you can get really creative. I go with the idea of a traditional cob salad, but use avocado in place of eggs and fresh red peppers over tomato.
For the dressing, keep it simple; mix taco seasoning right into some ranch dressing. It mimics the flavor of the chicken and carries it through everything else.
(No matter how healthy I pretend to be, Ranch will always have my heart)
Grandma says, “season for your taste.” She likes it spicy and I didn’t add enough for her. I guess grandma is a blogger now.
The end result is going to be this delightfully gorgeous mix of flavors that you are going to feel so, so good about eating.
2 large chicken breasts
2 heads romaine lettuce
1 red pepper
1/2 cup canned black beans
1/2 cup fresh corn
1 whole avocado
2 tbsp taco seasoning
3 tbsp Ranch dressing
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (optional)
In advance; rub chicken with taco seasoning, cook over medium-high heat until blackened, slice before serving
Remove corn from cob and lightly toast until cooked through
Rinse beans and toast until heated
Thinly slice remaining veggies and assemble
Mix ranch with taco seasoning ( TO YOUR OWN TASTE), and coat
Top with cheddar cheese for more deliciousness