Chicken Green Chili Salad (Bajio Copycat)

Back in the good old days of Rexburg, Idaho – there were only a handful of decent places to eat out. I didn’t really care for the only sit-down, Wingers – and Taco Bell serves Pespsi instead of Coke, so that’s obviously out of the question. But then… there was Bajio.

My roommates and I went there at least once a week. I celebrated a few birthdays there, and I’ll never forget when my soon-to-be-husband told me he wanted to marry me over a Chicken Green Chili Salad. Romantic, right?

**Edit: Vahe wanted me to clarify that he did NOT, in fact, propose to me at Bajio. We just had our first “marriage talk” there. I got a text soon after I published… “Now the whole world thinks I proposed to you at Bajio!” Haha! Love him.**

We went back to Rexburg about a year ago, excited for lunch and memories at Bajio. Which, without my permission, is now a Costa Vida! My heart and stomach sank simultaneously when I saw that the Bajio flames had been extinguished by the Costa Vida wave. That’s slightly dramatic, but its the truth.

At least the manager – the one who always spoke Spanish to Vahe – was still there, and still spoke Spanish to Vahe. (My (brown) Armenian husband doesn’t speak Spanish.)

Anyways – after we were back home I set out to make the salad myself. I tried a few copycat recipes I found on various blogs. They didn’t really cut it for me. So, I tried out my own little version.

Here’s how it went:

Chicken Green Chili Salad (Bajio Copycat)

1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon brown sugar

2 (4 oz) cans diced green chilies
1 cup salsa verde
1/3 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
pinch of salt

2 grilled chicken breasts, cut into strips

Romaine lettuce
Salad toppings (diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar, cilantro, black beans, lime, avocado, sour cream)

1. First, caramelize the onions by heating olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Throw in the onions, and let them cook until they are very soft, and a light brown color – about 15-20 minutes. Add in the brown sugar, and stir for a few more minutes, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Set aside.
2. Next, make the sauce by combining the green chilies (do not drain, just dump in the entire can), salsa verde, sugar and salt in a sauce pan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
3. Add the grilled chicken strips and onions to the sauce, and bring to heat one more time.
4. Serve hot over romaine with desired toppings.

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