Spectacular flavour, minimum fuss

The way you present a meal can transform a simple recipe into something spectacular and with minimum fuss, says mother of two and popular social media cook Vanya Insull.

"Here, it’s all about the way you layer up the ingredients."

The key is having a few different large platters tucked away that are perfect for serving salads like this.

Mexican chicken salad

Serves 6

Ready in 30 minutes

Chipotle dressing

½ cup thick mayo

1½ Tbsp chipotle sauce

1 Tbsp lemon or lime juice

¼ tsp paprika

¼ tsp salt


1 cup brown rice

800g chicken breasts

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp ground cumin

1 Tbsp paprika

1 tsp salt

2 corn cobs

1 iceberg lettuce, chopped

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

100g plain corn chips

Flesh of 3 avocados, sliced

1 spring onion, finely sliced

2 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander (optional)


To make the chipotle dressing, whisk the ingredients in a small bowl. Chill until needed.

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions. Allow to cool.

Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally. Whisk the oil, cumin, paprika and salt in a large dish, add the chicken and turn to coat. Chill until needed.

Heat a barbecue grill or large frying pan to a high heat, add the chicken and cook for about 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Grill the corn cobs at the same time.

Allow the chicken to rest while you slice the corn kernels off the cobs and assemble the salad.

Arrange the lettuce on a large serving platter, then scatter with the rice, corn kernels, tomatoes and corn chips.

Slice the chicken and arrange on top of the salad, along with the avocado slices. Scatter with the spring onion and coriander (if using).

Drizzle some chipotle dressing over the salad and serve the rest in a jug on the side.

Tips and tricks: 

To get ahead, the chicken can be marinated the day before.

I like to microwave corn cobs with the husks on for 3 minutes before grilling them on the barbecue.

The book

Summer Favourites, by Vanya Insull (published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $39.99)