Elizabeth Barbone & Pulled Chicken (or Vegan) Salad with Lime-Cilantro Dressing

This post is linked to Gluten-Free Wednesdays, Wellness Weekends, Allergen-Friendly Friday, and Foodie Friday 

Now if you know gluten-free chef and cookbook author Elizabeth Barbone (of http://www.glutenfreebaking.comand Easy Gluten-Free Baking), you’re thinking hey, she’s known for her gluten-free baking, why is she making Cilantro-Lime Pulled Chicken Salad? Well, Elizabeth obviously eats more than baked goods, but if she’s reading, she is probably wondering about the salad recipe connection, too! The two are only related by date of “occurrence.” Please allow me to explain.

 Elizabeth and I had met on Twitter several months earlier. Almost the moment she found out that I led a support group, she tweeted that she’d like to come speak to us in November. I could believe it! I was thrilled as November is the month that we hold our anniversary open house event, so the timing would be perfect! Most of our non-local speakers “Skype” in, but Elizabeth had a speaking engagement in Maryland the following day, so she actually volunteered to speak in person for our 7th anniversary open house. Elizabeth, and her traveling partner—and “right-hand—her lovely mother, came all the way from upstate New York to speak to us and give us a bread-making demonstration. 

Elizabeth gave an excellent presentation with some fun props, including her purple KitchenAid mixer, a slinky, and xanthan gum. Yes, xanthan gum makes for quite an entertaining prop (even if some of us can’t or don’t care to consume it much or ever). The following are just a very few of the highlights from Elizabeth’s presentation: 

~ Xanthan gum does not replace gluten as is so often stated. Per Elizabeth, if xanthan gum replaced gluten, then all gluten-free recipe creators would be out of business. While I’m not sure I completely agree with that statement, since I focus on naturally gluten-free recipes (and tend to avoid gums in my recipes), but I do see her point! She clarified that while xanthan gum helps with gluten-free baking, it is not a one-for-one replacement for gluten. Elizabeth did demonstrate xanthan gum’s binding capabilities though. Near the beginning of her presentation, she put some xanthan gum in a cup and added a small amount of water. She set the cup aside for a while and then passed it around for folks to see and touch. By the time the cup had made its way around the room and back to Elizabeth, the xanthan gum and water had completely congealed. In fact, she turned the cup upside down and the xanthan gum didn’t budge. Binding power for sure!  

~ Gluten can be viewed like a slinky when it comes to the elasticity it gives to recipes, especially breads. Think of the give and take of working with gluten-filled dough as an example. Baking without gluten presents unexpected challenges and a learning curve, but it can be accomplished. Tried and true flour mixes and recipes can make gluten-free baking enjoyable and successful.  

~ When you buy baking mixes, you are paying someone else to mix your flours. (My thoughts: I agree and typically do not buy mixes myself. There are many bloggers who share their flour mix recipes on their sites. I tend to use either an all-purpose flour mix—which I create by mixing Asian white rice flour and cornstarch—or I use almond flour and/pr coconut flour. If you are challenged in this area, you can certainly take advantage of gluten-free bloggers’ expertise. However, I understand that many are very happy to pay someone else to procure and mix their flours. You may be one of them and that’s fine, too, of course!) 

Elizabeth had made bread in her bread machine in her hotel room and all got to sample and enjoy it. Folks met with Elizabeth and her mom before and after her presentation asking questions as she signed her cookbook they’d purchased.   

After the open house concluded, my dear friend, Jennifer, and I headed out to check out a nearby kitchen shop and then grab a bite to eat. I wanted to take her to a favorite spot, Bistro Bethem, which often has avocados stuffed with crabmeat, greens, and pine nuts on the menu. It’s one of my very favorite light meals; it makes for a truly divine and healthy lunch. However, it was that mid-afternoon time of day when some restaurants close and unfortunately that restaurant had just done so.  

As we ambled along the streets looking for inspiration, Jennifer searched on her iPhone for possibilities, but as we walked while she “searched,” we spied Here and Abroad Bakery and Bistro tucked into the corner of a delightful courtyard. Clearly, Here and Abroad did present some potential cross-contamination problems as it is both a bakery and a bistro, and not a gluten-free one. But Jennifer and I quizzed the owner who himself had food allergies (seafood in his case) and were satisfied with his answers. I’m not advising that you take that route. I’m just sharing my individual experience. I am always very concerned about the fact that flour in stays in the air for up to 72 hours and even ingesting a little of that airborne gluten can do a major number on me. While I don’t advise others to take this risk, if you eat anywhere that makes its own gluten-full baked goods on the premises, you already are.  

Here and Abroad appeared spotless with its ingredients and the gluten-full bakery items were enclosed in glass cases for view by all. So we “went for it” and both ended up ordering the Lime-Cilantro Chicken Salad. I’m not always crazy about cilantro, but Jennifer was certain this salad would be good and she was so right. It was one of the best salads I’ve eaten in my life! How good was it? I loved it so much that when my sister and I went back downtown for the annual holiday open house event the following day, I steered her to Here and Abroad and I ordered the salad again. It was just as good the second time around.  Here’s a photo Jennifer snapped with her iPhone. 

Here and Abroad’s Lime-Cilantro Chicken Salad

So it was obvious that I had to re-create the recipe at home. Jennifer found a similar recipe in a magazine (I don’t know which one), snapped photos of it with her iPhone, and sent them to me for inspiration. Mine is a lighter version—which mostly means fewer ingredients—but I’m quite happy with it. Hope you will be, too!


Pulled Chicken Salad with Lime-Cilantro Dressing
(Click here for a printable verson of this recipe.)

4 – 6 cups salad greens; Romaine mixed with other greens work well (I used Romaine, spring greens, and baby spinach) 

Some red onion, halved or quartered, and thinly sliced  

Some tomatoes, diced or quartered 

Some carrots, shredded 

Some walnut halves or pieces (optional, but I like the crunch and nutritional factors) 

Small pieces of pulled chicken (see notes for additional info and vegan option) 

Mix salad greens. Top with red onion, tomatoes, carrots, walnuts, chicken, and finally cilantro-lime dressing. (See recipe below.) 

Cilantro-Lime Dressing

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or similar; I recommend a healthy oil with some flavor of its own)

1 tbsp minced onion (or shallots; I use a yellow onion most often)

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

3 tbsp fresh lime juice (about the juice of one lime)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

¼ tsp sea salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1 garlic clove, crushed or minced (I’m sure I added more, but that’s just me)

Add all ingredients to your blender pitcher. Blend for a minute or two until fairly smooth. I blended until fairly smooth, but a few flecks of green from the cilantro remained. If you don’t have a blender, you may put all ingredients in a jar, seal, and shake about a minute. Just know that your dressing will have bits of onion, cilantro, and garlic that stand out, which is not a bad thing in my opinion.

Drizzle Pulled Chicken Salad with Cilantro-Lime Dressing immediately before serving.  

Shirley’s Notes: Honestly, most often, my “pulled” chicken comes right off of a gluten-free rotisserie chicken at my house, but here’s a super easy slow cooker recipe from Stephanie (A Year of Slow Cooking). I also like to take the frozen carcasses of rotisserie chicken or roasted chickens and add them to a large stockpot of boiling water (with a little vinegar or lemon juice added to extract the calcium from the bones). I remove the pot from the heat and let it sit, covered, for about 30 minutes. Then I remove the carcass to cool just long enough so that I can then easily remove all the chicken from the carcass. (I save the “broth” to make a light soup or to use with cooking vegetables.) You will be amazed at how much chicken comes off of a chicken carcass! Use the chicken for salads like this one or any chicken dish, like Chicken Enchilada Casserole. For a vegetarian/vegan option, chickpeas or white beans would make a lovely protein-rich substitution for the chicken. (This vegan Chickpea Salad from Mary of Gluten-Free Spinner has many of the same flavors and I love it, too!) But make no mistake … the dressing is key here. You’ll probably want to double the ingredients when making the Lime-Cilantro dressing if making more than one large salad.

Not just gf, but gfe!

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27 Responses to “Elizabeth Barbone & Pulled Chicken (or Vegan) Salad with Lime-Cilantro Dressing”

  1. Veronica on September 15th, 2011 1:17 pm

    I have eaten at Here and Abroad and adore the courtyard there. Now I’ll have to try their salad and your recipe for it as well.

    • Shirley on September 18th, 2011 8:36 am

      Hey V!–Here and Abroad is really such a charming little spot, isn’t it? The folks are friendly and the food is very, very good. I really hope you’ll try that salad soon. I love eating great salads and that one knocked my socks off! Mine is really good, too, and very close to the original. I should have loaded it up more like Here and Abroad did though. I think that’s part of it’s goodness … layering of so many flavors and textures. :-)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  2. Alisa Fleming on September 15th, 2011 3:37 pm

    Pulled chicken is one of my favorite meals, but I haven’t prepared it this way! Will try, thanks Shirley.

    • Shirley on September 18th, 2011 8:38 am

      Hi Alisa–I think you’ll really enjoy this one! And I could put the dressing on just about everything. ;-)


  3. Elizabeth Barbone on September 15th, 2011 4:48 pm

    Oh Shirley! I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I visited your group! It was a lovely time.

    And just to clarify my point on xanthan gum. I don’t mean we’d be “out of business”. Just that gluten isn’t identical to xanthan gum and vice versa. Some folks think it’s a 1:1 and it isn’t. :-)

    • Shirley on September 18th, 2011 10:35 am

      Hi Elizabeth–I know … I feel badly that it took so long to share your visit, but as that old saying goes, right? ;-) My group enjoyed your visit and cooking/demo presentation so much! :-) I reworded the bit about the xanthan gum. Hope it’s clearer now. We all understood your meaning though!

      Thanks again for being willing to come to VA for only the reward of cookbook sales, our bees’ honey, our group’s gf baked goods, and the company!

  4. Kay Guest on September 15th, 2011 7:45 pm

    Hey Shirley!
    This looks really good and I know people just LOVE cilantro…but I find it to be the weirdest taste. Still, if YOU say it is good in this, I might just have to give it a try…I really love LIMES!! Could you use something else other than cilantro? But then, you couldn’t call it Lime Cilantro dressing could you?
    What makes people learn to love cilantro? Tell me your secret!!

    • Shirley on September 18th, 2011 10:45 am

      Hi Kay–The only advice I can give you is to just keep eating cilantro in recipes. And even though cilantro was in the title of this salad, it’s not the first taste that comes to mind, at least not for me. My focus is on the lime and on the freshness of the ingredients. Be bold … try it with the cilantro first and just eat. Don’t think about the cilantro. If you still don’t like it, you can certainly substitute something else … maybe parsley. Basil can sometimes be subbed for cilantro, but will of course give quite a different flavor. I don’t know that basil will work in this recipe necessarily, but it will in others as a cilantro sub. So I think I’d go for parsley AFTER you have tried cilantro in it. It’s only a small amount. You were brave enough to start a blog, dear. Certainly you can conquer cilantro! But don’t taste the dressing by itself … taste it after you’ve drizzled it on the salad and let it sit for a minute or two to make sure it gets evenly distributed. Please report back. ;-)


  5. Ricki on September 15th, 2011 9:16 pm

    That dressing sounds amazing, Shirley! And what a great visit with Elizabeth, who sounds like quite the entertaining speaker. Thanks for submitting to WW this week as well! :)

    • Shirley on September 18th, 2011 10:48 am

      Hi Ricki–Thanks! I think it’s amazing. My friend and I are crazy about it. Next time I want to make it using avocado oil. I think that combination of flavors will be exceptional. ;-)

      Elizabeth did a really terrific job on her cooking demo and presentation. :-)

      I’d really like to be able to link to Wellness Weekends each week. I just have to get in the groove. I’ve been wanting to share one particular recipe there and it’s disappeared! Sigh.


  6. Ina Gawne on September 16th, 2011 9:33 am

    Shirley – this sounds divine! I love Cilantro and and Limes which I have in the refrigerator right now…must give this a try. Thanks for sharing!

    • Shirley on September 18th, 2011 10:57 am

      Hi Ina–Thanks, dear!! I think you’ll love this dressing. As a cilantro lover, you may even decide to up the cilantro, but I think it’s perfect as it is right now. ;-) I hope you enjoy!

      BTW, I still keep thinking about that horse video you shared the other day. Makes me smile! :-)


  7. Linda on September 16th, 2011 2:39 pm

    Sounds like Elizabeth gave an interesting and informative presentation. Your salad look great. I don’t use cilantro much, but I bet it’s terrific in that dressing.

    • Shirley on September 18th, 2011 11:02 am

      Hi Linda–Yes, Elizabeth kept everyone’s attention and all of us learned something from her. :-) The newbies who were interested in bread baking especially got a lot out of her presentation.

      Cilantro is not something that I buy every shopping trip, probably not even once a month. Usually I only pick some up for a specific recipe. As I was buying my last bunch, another lady was getting some and commented, “Another cilantro lover? There aren’t many of us.” I laughed and didn’t correct her. Who knows? I might become a cilantro lover. ;-) It really is perfect in this dressing.


  8. Maggie on September 16th, 2011 7:37 pm

    I can’t wait to try this dressing Shirley! I’ve never really done cilantro-lime, other than in guacamole! Thanks for the inspiration :)

    • Shirley on September 18th, 2011 11:04 am

      Hi Maggie–I think you and your family will love it, Maggie! I wouldn’t be surprised if you even improve it! I suspect there’s a possibility of a creamier version, too. I love this one, but it’s fun to play with recipes and have several variations, don’t you think? ;-)


  9. InTolerant Chef on September 16th, 2011 8:37 pm

    I’m so glad you had such a great experience and great meal, and even more glad you shared the recipe with us :-)

    • Shirley on September 18th, 2011 11:07 am

      InTolerant Chef–You’re so supportive—thanks! :-) Our open house was terrific and enjoying this salad with both my friend and my sister was wonderful, too. It took me a long time to get around to re-creating it, but I’m so glad that I did! ;-)


  10. Carol, Simply...Gluten-free on September 17th, 2011 8:31 am

    You had me at Lime Cilantro dressing! Great post.

    • Shirley on September 18th, 2011 11:11 am

      Hi Carol–Thanks, dear!! This dressing would probably even go great on one of your recent kabob creations (love those!). As a marinade/sauce perhaps? ;-)


  11. The Healthy Apple on September 18th, 2011 7:01 pm

    LOVE this recipe and this dressing looks fabulous! Thank you for sharing; So happy to have found your blog. Have a great night.

    • Shirley on September 19th, 2011 6:58 pm

      Hi Amie–It’s great to see you here again at gfe! It’s been a while. ;-) I know life is keeping you busy with the re-launch of Easy Eats (I followed Ellen and Joel’s work before). Congrats to all on that! It’s a beautiful, comprehensive publication. :-)

      Thanks re: this recipe. I have to say it’s perfect for this salad. Happy Monday!

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