Spache the Spatula

Quesadilla Blast Salad

Happy first Monday of Summer!

Quesadilla Blast Salad | #recipeAnd it’s a great Monday at that! Mikey gets today and tomorrow off because his studio decided they’re all working too hard. That means we get a four day weekend together—whoo-hoo! We’re going to drop the puppers off at daycare and go see a movie (probably How to Train Your Dragon 2 or 22 Jump Street). I haven’t been to the movie theater in ages. Um, and yes…our dog goes to daycare. He’s a rescue with some serious anxiety issues so he doesn’t do the best left alone. And when I say “doesn’t do the best,” I mean we left him home once for three hours to see a movie and the neighbors called the cops because he was barking and sprinting around the house the entire time and they thought something was wrong. Sooooo yeah. He needs a sitter.

But, let’s have a little chat about this salad. If you guessed the name was just a poor attempt at a spinoff of a very popular chain restaurant salad, you’re very correct. This is a Chili’s copycat Quesadilla Explosion Salad. Well, kind of a copycat… It’s missing a few things, but it was definitely inspired by my favorite high school hangout’s salad. Chili’s was like my favorite place to go after school with my friends for lunch. It’s hard to beat free chips and salsa. Plus, their chips are like impossibly thin and addictive.

Quesadilla Blast Salad | #recipe Quesadilla Blast Salad | #recipeI used to be full-on obsessed with the Quesadilla Explosion Salad. And I mean until only last month I was. Not having a Chili’s anywhere in Seattle only made me yearn for the salad more. Buuuut when I was home last month getting sinus surgery, I went there with my little sister and got my beloved salad and it was….bad. Like really bad. The lettuce was wilted, the dressing tasted weird, and the quesadillas were, I think, fried. Who fries quesadillas?!

My version, however, is super delicious, like my teenage memories of Quesadilla Explosion Salad (with perfectly griddled quesadillas *drool*).

Quesadillas | #recipeChopped romaine, bell pepper, green onion, skillet-toasted fresh Summer corn, tomato, and cilantro are all tossed in a homemade orange vinaigrette. I would have thrown in some black beans, too, but the can I thought I had in my pantry didn’t actually exists. I hate when that happens.

Anyway, the salad is topped with crushed tortilla chips, some simple grilled chicken, and the crowning glory—ooey gooey pepper jack quesadillas. It’s kinda the best. It’s also really easy to throw together, and I think you’re going to love it as much as I do 😀

Quesadilla Blast Salad | #recipe

Quesadilla Blast Salad

Yield: 2 huge servings that should probably be consumed by more like 4 humans...

Quesadilla Blast Salad


    for the chicken:
  • 1 chicken breast, filleted in half and pounded to 1/4" thickness
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • for the orange vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • for the salad:
  • 1 ear of corn
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 hearts of romaine, chopped
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 green onion (white and green parts), sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • tortilla chips, crushed
  • for the quesadillas:
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 2 7-inch flour tortillas
  • 2-4 ounces shredded pepper jack cheese


    for the chicken:
  1. Heat your grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Coat both sides of the chicken filets in salt and pepper, and cook on each side for 2-4 minutes, until cooked through. (You can either serve it warm on the salad, or pop it in the fridge to chill it until the rest of the components are made.)
  3. for the orange vinaigrette:
  4. In a small saucepan, heat the oaring juice,balsamic vinegar, and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Pour the mixture into a blender and start the motor. Slowly, drizzle in the olive oil and blend until slightly thickened. Taste, and adjust with salt and pepper.
  6. Put in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
  7. for the salad:
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels of corn off the cob (hold the cob vertically and slice downward).
  9. Heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Add in the olive oil, and then the corn. Cook for a few minutes, and thens tie as the corn begins to turn brown. Turn off the heat and transfer the corn to a bowl.
  10. In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, cilantro, bell pepper, tomato, green onion, and corn. Pour the dressing over top (as much as you'd like, I didn't quite use it all), and toss to coat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
  11. for the quesadillas:
  12. In the same pan that you cooked the corn, heat the butter over medium heat. Add in one of the tortillas, and top with your desired amount of cheese. Place a lid over the skillet for a couple minutes, until the cheese begins to melt, then top with the second tortilla. Press down with a spatula. When the bottom is golden brown, flip and cook until the other side is golden, and the cheese is nice and gooey.
  13. With a sharp knife, slice the quesadilla into 8 mini wedges.
  14. to serve:
  15. Divide the dressed salad between your plates. Top with crushed tortilla chips, the chicken, and quesadillas.


dressing adapted from here

Quesadilla Blast Salad | #recipeP.S.—My Flavor Bible giveaway ends at midnight, tonight!


4 Responses to “Quesadilla Blast Salad”

  1. CakePants — June 23, 2014 at 4:59 am

    I have a vague recollection of ordering that salad at Chili's once, but don't remember what it was like (which is weird, since usually I have a very keen food memory, haha)…I'll have to make this and remind myself – it looks fantastic! By the way, I love those gorgeous blue plates!

    • Rachael replied: — June 23rd, 2014 @ 11:42 am

      Thanks so much! From what I've heard, apparently the real Quesadilla Explosion Salad lost it's luster like 5 years ago—bummer :/

      And the plates I actually got on sale at William's Sonoma. I think they were less than $5 apiece—total deal!

  2. Sarah — June 23, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Oh, good lord this salad looks AH-MAZING! I've never ordered a quesadilla blast from Chili's before, but I think I'm gonna start with your homemade version. Seriously, there is nothing NOT to love about this salad…the grilled chicken, that corn salad…. those cheesy quesadillas..Gahh!! So want this for lunch today! Rockin' photos too Rachael! Love the blue plates! Pinned.

    • Rachael replied: — June 23rd, 2014 @ 11:43 am

      Thank you, Sarah! I kinda think you can't put too many tasty ingredients in one salad, haha. I like mine loaded!

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