As I’ve alluded to in the past, I’m not really into the hiding-vegetables-in-your-kids’-food trend. In my book, the ideal is for kids to learn to enjoy the veggies themselves, if humanly possible. Hiding vegetables in an unsuspecting child’s dinner puts feels a bit like a sneaky parlor trick, and I’d rather not feel like a con artist when putting dinner on the table. But sometimes a recipe comes along that so effectively incorporates vegetables in an unexpected place that I find it fools even me. This slow cooker salsa chicken does just that. I would not normally put carrots and celery into a salsa-based dish (would you?), so when I first tried this recipe, I was a little wary. Carrots and celery in combination remind me of soups or pot pie, something warm and brothy and probably originally from the East Coast–certainly not anything Mexican. So it’s kind of shocking how seamlessly they blend into this tomato-y, chili-spiced shredded chicken. Makes me wonder where else I could add veggies without them being overpowering (and without them being “hidden” to fool unwitting children).
Another other reason I love this recipe (in addition to how easy it is–did I mention that, too?) is its all-purposeness–it has made appearances in burritos, wraps, nachos, and on salad at our house. I’m even contemplating making a dessert with it–bad idea? It’s pretty much perfect for one of those days you know you want something homemade but can’t be home for very long to get it ready. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed with its spicy-yummy goodness, and your kids, if you have them, won’t be freaked out by its subtle vegetables (especially if you wrap it up in a tortilla–that’s not too sneaky, right?).
Veggie-ful Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken
(Adapted from Sparkpeople.com)
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins
2 Tbsp. taco seasoning (preferably homemade–see here for an easy recipe)
1 c. salsa
1 c. petite diced tomatoes with green chilies (fire-roasted are especially good!)
1 c. onion, diced
1/2 c. celery, diced
1/2 c. carrots, shredded
1. Place chicken in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Season on both sides with taco seasoning.
2. Layer salsa, diced tomatoes, onion, celery, and carrots on top of the chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high 3-4 hours.
3. Remove chicken from slow cooker and shred. Return to slow cooker and drain the liquid from the entire mixture with a fine-mesh strainer. Serve with tacos, nachos, tostadas, wraps or in a taco salad!