Cajun Chicken with Mardi Gras Salsa

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Cajun Chicken with Mardi Gras Salsa is spicy and sweet. The perfect festive dish to celebrate Mardi Gras with!

Cajun Chicken with Mardi Gras Salsa | iowagirleats.com

Hey you! How was your weekend?

Mine went way too fast, but at least I got a taste of spring at the Des Moines Home & Garden Show on Saturday!

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My Mom has always wanted to go to the yearly home & garden showcase, so I told her I’d tag along with her this year. While we didn’t leave with too many big ideas (it ended up being more for people who were building new homes or remodeling,) at least we got to stop and smell the flowers. Oh, the flowers! They were such a sight for sore, cold eyes.

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We made sure to stop and test drive every single swinging bench we encountered as we wound our way through the aisles of the expo. My Mom’s kind of obsessed with them. Ok, me too. They’re so relaxing.

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Oh, btw, an outdoor stone wall complete with tv and fireplace WILL be mine in our future dream home, mmkay?

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Afterwards we hopped a couple blocks over to have lunch at one of my favorite restaurants downtown, Centro. Last week I suggested it to a reader who was coming to town for business, which had me craving a taste of their modern-Italian cuisine. Their pizza is to-die!

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How I ended up with a bowl of Cheeseburger Chowder and half a Tuscan Panini, I’ll never know, but it was just the ticket for the cold and blustery afternoon we were having.

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Mother/daughter date!

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Later that night Ben and I tucked in and made 4 million pieces of homemade sushi before popping in a DVD. (Here’s my sushi tutorial > Next time I want to try mango, cucumber, and cream cheese!) We got The Bourne Legacy to watch – Ben hated it and I thought it was just meh. Without giving too much away, I was confused by the fact that the movie ended so abruptly. They were in the middle of an epic fight scene, and then the film just…stopped. Obviously setting up for the next movie but still, we were left wanting more.

Hey, maybe they were onto something! ;)

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Today has been a mix of work, play, gym, and cooking – including the Cajun Chicken with Mardi Gras Salsa I made for dinner!

Cajun Chicken with Mardi Gras Salsa | iowagirleats.com

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is this Tuesday in New Orleans, and since Ben’s and my trip to the epic city a few years ago, I always try and make something fun to celebrate, even if the party’s over 1,000 miles away!

New Orleans | iowagirleats.com

Ben and I had no idea what to expect when we traveled down south in 2010, but were absolutely blown away by the culture, and architecture,

New Orleans | iowagirleats.com

the raging impromptu parties,

New Orleans | iowagirleats.com

the beautiful scenery,

Oak Alley | iowagirleats.com

and of course, the food! New Orleans is tied with San Fran for my favorite city in the US (although I think it might have just the slightest edge) and we cannot wait to return someday for one of the biggest parties of the year – Mardi Gras.

New Orleans | iowagirleats.com

Until then I thought I’d pay homage to the festivities by cooking up Cajun-spiced chicken breasts topped with a fresh and flavorful salsa sporting the colors of Mardi Gras: yellow pineapple, green cilantro and jalapeno, and purple onion. Though this Mardi Gras Salsa might not be a staple in the south, the bold taste reminded us of all the yummy dishes we had in NOLA.

Start off by making the Mardi Gras Salsa, which calls for 2 cups fresh pineapple. Breaking down a fresh pineapple isn’t as intimidating as it might seem. Here I’ll show you!

First chose a pineapple that’s more yellow then green, then pull on a frond on the top. If it comes out easily, it’s ripe. Next, using a very sharp knife, slice the top and bottom off.

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Now use the knife to cut the peel away. Just follow the curve of the pineapple and don’t worry if some knobs get left behind. Just clean it up with your knife afterwards.

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Slice the pineapple in half lengthwise, then slice each half in half again, to make quarters. Turn each quarter on a flat side, then slice the core out on the diagonal.

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Turn the quarter onto its now-flat side, then slice. Fresh pineapple for all! (Seriously, you’ll never go back!)

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To the pineapple add 1/2 seeded & minced jalapeno, and 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro.

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Finally add 1/4 cup minced red onion, and the juice of 1 lime. 

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Season with salt & pepper then mix to combine. Mardi Gras Salsa = done!

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Next, brush a chicken breast on both sides with extra virgin olive oil then season with bold and spicy Cajun seasoning. You can find pre-mixed Cajun seasoning right in the spice aisle, or make your own. I love Emeril’s recipe > Saute the chicken over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes a side then move to a plate.

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Top with the bright, sweet & spicy salsa, then enjoy!

Cajun Chicken with Mardi Gras Salsa | iowagirleats.com

Cajun Chicken with Mardi Gras Salsa

Print this recipe!

Serves 4

Ingredients: 
4 chicken breasts
Cajun seasoning (I used Emeril’s Essence)

For the Mardi Gras Salsa:
2 cups chopped pineapple
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 jalapeno, seeded & minced
2  Tablespoons chopped cilantro
juice of a lime
salt & pepper

Directions: 

  1.  Combine ingredients for Mardi Gras Salsa in a large bowl. Stir together then set aside. 
  2. Brush both sides of chicken breasts with extra virgin olive oil then season with Cajun seasoning. Saute in a large skillet over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes a side, or until cooked through. Top with Mardi Gras Salsa then serve.

 

I served my chicken and salsa with spicy Sweet Potato Fries on the side. That’s just 1 small sweet potato cut into fry shapes, tossed with extra virgin olive oil and more Cajun seasoning, then roasted on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes @ 425. Spicy and sweet, they were the perfect accompaniment. A feast for the eyes, AND the tastebuds!

Cajun Chicken with Mardi Gras Salsa | iowagirleats.com

More Southern-inspired dishes…

Lighter Crock Pot Red Beans & Rice

Shrimp & Sweet Corn Maque Choux 

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the heads up on Centro. I will most definitely be checking it out the next time I head to Des Moines!

    That salsa looks fabulous. You really cannot go wrong with pineapple :).

  2. Nancy 02.10.2013

    Love your white jacket that you’re wearing out with your Mom. I think it’s the texture I’m drawn to.

    Also – I think your blog was the very first place I’ve learned how to cut a pineapple … a few years ago or so. I’ve been buying pineapples constantly ever since… thanks to your little demo!

    I’ve never had sushi. Random fact thrown in there. haha

  3. Dara @how_to_eat 02.10.2013

    This looks delicious! So fresh and bright for the cold winter months. I may try it with tilapia instead of chicken – will let you know how it turns out!

  4. Elisabeth 02.10.2013

    Love, love, love your sweater. We make homemade sushi all. the. time. We’ve had it twice in less than a week (http://optimisticmusings.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/recently-enjoyed-things/). We do maple smoked salmon, cucumber, cream cheese, and red pepper. The maple and cream cheese combo is soooo good. While I still love all sushi, I’ll admit to being a bit of a snob for our own. It is just so fresh and refreshing! Delish!

  5. Lindsay Tokash 02.10.2013

    Hi Kristin! I just wanted to say that I just started following your blog about a month ago and have made about 10 or so of your recipes and have LOVED every single one! Just made your pad Thai recipe tonight and it was so good..can’t wait to eat it again for lunch tomorrow! Keep up the good work :)

  6. Mmm, that’s salsa looks amazing. Great job!

  7. Nicky 02.10.2013

    I love that you and your mom are so close & do such fun things together. So, so neat!!
    And, mmmmmm…..beignets!!

  8. Alexa 02.10.2013

    When I lived in Davenport they still had a Centro there and I was obsessed. One of the few, non-chain restaurants to eat there. Too bad they closed down that location.

  9. Michelle 02.10.2013

    Cheeseburger chowder! So curious how that is!

  10. Allison 02.10.2013

    That is a really cute cream colored sweater.

    Nice, simple recipe. I think that I will give this a try.

  11. You’re killing me with your yummy salsa recipes! I had a soup simmering in a pot all afternoon but I couldn’t eat any of it because by the time it was done I had gorged myself on your restaurant salsa recipe and half a bag of chips! Don’t worry, it was worth it.

  12. erin z. 02.10.2013

    we never made it to centro when Mister Man lived there, and i am still bummed about it, because it looks delicious! did you guys get all the snow today like we did up here? it’s been a snowed-in sunday for sure.

  13. Sarita 02.10.2013

    Nothing better than fresh ripe pineapple!

  14. Jess 02.11.2013

    I made this pineapple salsa on saturday with pulled pork! So good! The only difference I flame roasted my chilli!

  15. Look fantastic!! Glad y’all had fun at the show.

  16. Christy 02.11.2013

    I love your mother-daughter date pics. For whatever reason (maybe our moms look a tiny bit alike?), those pictures make me so homesick for my mom. I moved from PA to FL about four and a half years ago, and I still miss my mom so much! So, thanks. I’m living vicariously through you…and my Google reader. :-)

  17. Sally 02.11.2013

    Looks delicious – I love fruit-based salsas. By the way, where did you get your white sweater? So pretty!

  18. Mary 02.11.2013

    I love your blog! I also love how close you and your mom are. My mom is my best friend as well (along with my husband, I suppose…I mean, of course ;)). Thanks for your fun, approachable, cheerful thoughts and recipes!

    ~A fan and fellow Iowa Girl

    • Theresa 02.11.2013

      And your sister;)

      Love from Indiana!
      (though I’ll ALWAYS be an Iowa Girl)

      • Mary 02.11.2013

        Ha! Yes! My awesome sister, who introduced me to IGE (and who I HAD to text after leaving a comment), is another bestie. Not sure it was a good idea to start this train…

        Anyway, sorry if this thread is a bit off the wall. Theresa and I simply love your great sense of humor, fun style, and terrific ideas. Thanks again!!

  19. I can’t wait to try out that salsa! I have a pineapple slicer so that should make my life easier :)

  20. I’m headed to NOLA in a few weeks for work. So excited to get back there again! My friends and I took a trip in college over 4th of July in 2005 just before Katrina hit. Can’t wait to get back down there! Fat Tuesday is one of my favorite food days! I’m craving a shrimp po’ boy like no other!

  21. Elizabeth Pollastrini 02.11.2013

    My brother is a chef at Centro! Love that place!

  22. Teresa K. 02.11.2013

    Sweet Potato Fries?
    Sweet!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Looks like you had such a fun time, and this chicken recipe you made is mouthwatering! Thanks for sharing!

  24. Amanda Jean 02.11.2013

    I make a salsa just like this but add green pepper instead of japleno and then serve it with soft shell smoked pulled pork tacos.

  25. Denise 02.11.2013

    I got “Good chicken babe,” from my husband! And we struggle to make chicken breasts in good, new ways, so this was awesome! And easy too! Think I am gonna eat some of the salsa with tortilla chips – YUM! Thanks!

  26. Diane N. 02.11.2013

    We tried this recipe tonight and loved it. The pineapple salsa was awesome! I have been reading your blog for about a year now and love your healthy recipes. I used to live in Des Moines and moved to Indianapolis last fall. You have become part of my Iowa connection with your comments about living in Iowa such as going to the Des Moines Home and Garden show and Centro restaurant(also one of my favorites). I miss Des Moines and the great people there! Thanks for your blog. Keep up the great work.

  27. Susie 02.13.2013

    Made this Monday night. I got a “I think this is my favorite dinner we’ve had lately” from the husband and I agreed – especially since it was one of the quickest/easiest I’ve made lately. :) Thanks for this recipe!

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