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California Pizza Kitchen: BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad

For some reason, whenever we fly, California Pizza Kitchen is our go-to airport terminal food.  Our standard order: five cheese and tomato pizza with the bbq chicken chopped salad.  It's a lot more refreshing than the fast food burgers, and a bit more interesting than the sandwich shops. 

It's funny, outside of flying, you'll never find us in a California Pizza Kitchen; there are just too many other interesting and yummy things to eat out there.  But, as soon as we're in layover mode, it's all about CPK.  I guess that it's been too long since our last flight.  The instant we spotted jicama at our local produce market, we thought of and craved this salad.

It may seem like a lot of ingredients, especially since you're making the dressing yourself, but it's really a great salad.  Every bite is full of different flavors and textures, with the fresh herbs, monterey jack, and crunchy vegetables.  The bbq sauce lends the smokiness that makes this salad taste so unique. 

We loved the home rendition of this salad.  We ate it two days in a row.  It can feel like a lot of chopping, but the prep came together much more quickly the second time.  If you've tried this salad at CPK, this version definitely satisfies the craving.  If you haven't, then you've got to make this salad; you'll really enjoy it.  

BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad

adapted from copycat recipes

serves 4


  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 12 corn tortillas, cut 1/4-inch strips (we used whole wheat tortillas)


  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon cold water
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 8 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon thinly-sliced scallion top, and whites
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh basil


  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5 oz ea)
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce


  • 1/2 head iceberg lettuce (cored, rinsed and dried and cut into thin 1/8" strips)
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce leaves (separated, trimmed, rinsed, dried, and cut thin strips)
  • 12 large fresh basil leaves, cut 1/8-inch strips
  • 1 lb jicama, cut 1/4-inch by 1/4-inch by 3/4-inch strips
  • 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
  • 1 cup canned black beans, rinsed drained
  • 1 cup canned sweet white corn kernels, drained
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 lbs fresh ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dices
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce


  1. To Make the Fried Tortilla Strips: In a deep, heavy frying pan, heat several inches of vegetable oil to a temperature of 375 degrees. Working in batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding, carefully add the tortilla strips to the hot oil, submerging them with a metal skimmer or slotted spoon. Fry the tortilla strips until evenly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully lift them out with the skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer them to paper towels to drain and cool. Set aside, uncovered.
  2. To Make the Garden Herb Ranch Dressing: In a mixing bowl, use a fork to stir together the mustard and cold water, forming a paste. Set aside for 10 minutes. Add the remaining dressing ingredients to the bowl and, using a handheld electric mixer at low speed or a whisk, blend together just until smooth, taking care not to incorporate too much air into the dressing. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  3. To Make the Grilled Garlic and BBQ Chicken: Preheat a stovetop grill or the broiler. In a mixing bowl, stir together the olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, and salt. Turn the chicken breasts in this marinade and leave to marinate at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Grill or broil the chicken breasts until cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Cut the chicken breasts into 3/4-inch cubes and, in a bowl, toss with the barbecue sauce to coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  4. To Make the Salad: In a large mixing bowl, toss together the lettuces, basil, jicama, Monterey Jack cheese, beans, corn, cilantro, dressing, and half of the Fried Tortilla Strips. Transfer the salads to chilled serving plates. Surround each salad with diced tomatoes and the remaining Fried Tortilla Strips. Top each salad with chunks of Grilled Garlic BBQ Chicken and drizzle the chicken with the barbecue sauce. Garnish with the scallion.


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