Quesadilla Salad: Chili’s Swap

The Quesadilla Explosion salad looks healthy…a bed of greens, grilled chicken, black beans, citrus-balsamic dressing.  Oh, how that salad fooled me!  The salad and quesadillas somehow pack a full day’s worth of calories into a little bitty space.

I really love the idea of this weirdo salad, so I decided I can Make This At Home with a few smart swaps.

For the Quesadilla

  • 1 – 96% Fat Free Heart Healthy 10” Burrito Tortilla (180 calories, 35 carbs)
  • 1/4 cup of Sharp Cheddar Cheese (110 calories)

For the Salad

  • 2-3 cups Chopped Romain Lettuce or a Spring Salad mix (about 30 calories per cup)
  • 2-3 oz cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips or chunks (4 oz is about 110 calories)
  • 2 tablespoons of each of the following: rinsed black beans, rinsed whole kernel sweet corn, well drained Ro-Tel tomatoes

For the Dressing

  • 2-3 tablespoons Salsa (average is about 5 calories per tablespoon)
  • 2 tablespoons Kraft Ranch Dressing and Dip (120 calories)


To make the quesadilla, place tortilla in a non-stick pan or a pan sprayed lightly with nonstick spray.  Sprinkle cheese over one half of the tortilla, and then bring the pan to medium/medium-high heat. Once cheese begins to melt, use a spatula to fold the plain half of the tortilla over the cheese-topped half, and then press down with the spatula to seal. Flip quesadilla and continue to cook and press until the entire quesadilla is hot and beginning to turn a beautiful golden color. Set aside.

Layer the lettuce, tomatoes, corn, and black beans in a bowl.  Top with the chicken (warm or cold). Cut the quesadilla into triangles, and place them around your salad.

To make dressing, mix salsa and ranch in a small dish by shaking or stirring.  Top salad with dressing or serve on the side.

Bonus: You have a ton of black beans, corn, and Rotel left for Tortilla Soup or other yummy recipes.  I enjoyed some on a baked sweet potato, sprinkled with taco seasoning.

This version of the recipe has about 600 calories.  That’s less than half of the original.

Variations and Tips

  • Need a healthier tortilla?  Try La Tortilla Factory’s Smart and Delicious line or Mission’s Carb Balance line.
  • Cheese has healthier swaps, too. Try a low fat shredding cheese, like Kraft’s 2% Naturals, or The Laughing Cow’s flavored wedges.  Can you image Queso Fresco and Chipotle on a quesadilla?
  • This is an easy vegetarian meal, too.  Just bulk up the black beans and drop the chicken!
  • Want a Citrus-Balsamic dressing swap? Check out Hungry Girl! She has a Mexi-licous swap for this Chili’s salad and came up with a dressing swap.  Her version is less than 350 calories!
  • Don’t like ranch?  Try mixing a tablespoon or two of low-fat sour cream with salsa for a creamy dressing swap!

You know the drill!  Share your recipes!


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