This recipe is sponsored by Target. Up your taco salad game with bright, sharp flavor from homemade quick-pickled jalapeño slices and juicy chicken breast pepped up with taco seasoning. Then add crunch with melty cheese quesadillas chopped into croutons to make this a mealtime winner.
Combine the vinegar, sugar, 3 tablespoons water and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the mixture boils and the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes. (Alternatively, heat the ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl in a microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute.) Put the jalapeños in a small heatproof bowl. Pour the hot pickling liquid over the jalapeños and allow to cool to room temperature, 20 to 30 minutes.
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with the taco seasoning, salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until the taco seasoning is toasted and almost blackened and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the middle of each chicken breast registers 165 degrees F, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool slightly. Wipe out the saute pan with a paper towel.
Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the saute pan over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add 2 tortillas, top each with 1/2 cup cheese and a second tortilla and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown and the cheese melts, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, allow to cool for 1 to 2 minutes, then cut into 1/2-inch squares.
Put the greens and any crunchy toppings included in the salad kits in a large bowl. Add the chopped cilantro and pepitas if desired.
Drain the jalapeños from the pickling liquid and add to the salad. Add the quesadilla croutons and avocado. Drizzle or toss with the dressing included in the salad kits. Slice the chicken into strips. Serve the salad topped with the chicken.
If your chicken breasts are very thick, you can slice them in half horizontally to make thin pieces.
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