It’s finally feeling a little bit like winter around here, but I’m in denial. I’m ready for sunshine! If my skin can’t have it, at least my stomach can. I’m craving summer food.

Island Chicken Salad

We eat a lot of salads in the summer (who wants to be slaving over a hot stove when it’s super hot outside?), but that doesn’t mean that things get dull around our dinner table. Nope, salads around here are packed full of flavor. Our favorite salad is, without a doubt, Island Chicken Salad.

Is your mouth watering? It should be.

First step towards getting this photo in your belly is to DIY your own Caribbean Jerk rub. Making your own spice blends is awesome: it saves money and lets you skip the preservatives and high sodium found in the package varieties. I came up with this special Nerd Nest blend after reading about 20 recipes for Caribbean Jerk rubs online and picking and choosing and adding my own spices until it tasted juuuuust right. Lucky for you, you can skip the whole trial and error part, because HERE. IT. IS.

DIY Caribbean Jerk Rub

Caribbean Jerk Rub Recipe:

Dry Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons onion powder
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon ground dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Mix dry ingredients and store in an airtight container. (This makes WAY more than you need for one serving, so you’ll have the dry rub in your pantry ready for next time!)

Wet Ingredients:
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

To make the wet rub, combine 2 teaspoons of the dry ingredient mixture with the wet ingredients.

*Tip: I didn’t have ground allspice, so I ground up whole allspice in my spare coffee grinder.

Now that you’ve got your rub, you can proceed to the making of the amazing salad.

Island Chicken Salad

Island Chicken Salad Recipe:

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients:

3 chicken breasts
3 strips of applewood smoked bacon, diced
5 1/2 tsp wet Caribbean Jerk Rub Recipe (make as directed above)
1 (16 oz) can of black beans, rinsed
8 oz colby jack cheese, shredded
3 cups romaine lettuce, torn
1 tomato, diced
1 cup sweet corn, cut from cob
2 Tablespoons of cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, sliced thinly
Spicy Ranch dressing, to taste
Barbecue sauce, to taste

Directions:

Prepare the wet rub in a bowl as directed. Coat chicken in wet rub.

Grill chicken until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear, about 4-5 minutes on each side. (Alternatively, cook chicken over medium-high heat with 1 Tbsp olive oil.)

Meanwhile, cook diced bacon over medium high heat until crispy.

When chicken is cooked through, allow it to rest for five minutes. Then slice it thinly.

Assemble salads, topping with dressing and just a hint of BBQ sauce. (Sounds weird, but is delicious. Trust me.).

*Tip: If corn on the cob isn’t in season, frozen will do the trick. Just cook as directed and let cool to room temperature. Canned corn not recommended.

This is super simple and easy to make, but it’s a flavor explosion!

If you make this, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments section!