Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad

Summer on a college campus is wonderfully quiet and spacious, but the food sucks. After finals, most of the on-site restaurants close or offer limited menus, because thousands of hungry college kids are off bothering someone else for a couple months.

But what about my salads?? The coffee bar upstairs in the library sells salads at lunch during the semester. MY SALADS HAVE DISPPEARED for the summer and I'm kind of freaking out about that.

To the store! Get some:

* Chicken breast
* Parmesan cheese (the little tubs of shredded in the fridge section, not the canisters of grated in the pasta aisle)
* Big, fat croutons
* Caesar dressing
* A lemon
* Butter (or oil, if you just want to pan cook your chicken like normal. I'm BLACKENING it!)
* A bunch of seasonings -OR-  one really good everything seasoning (like Tony's or Matt's)

Laziness Disclaimer: I have a recipe for homemade croutons. I'm not doing that. They sell those in bags. Also, I'm sure there are 50,000 recipes online for fresh Caesar dressing made from local organic hand-picked Caesars, but I bought Kraft.

The main thing here is the chicken. You're gonna thaw out some chicken breast, and cut it up into chunks. You're gonna put those chunks in a bowl and squeeze a couple of lemon wedges all over them. Toss them around in that lemon juice. Mmm.

Now sprinkle them with seasoning. That Matt's stuff that Dad has's...oh god it's amazing. Use that. If you don't have that, improvise with whatever you have in your pantry that would make a good all-purpose seasoning mix. You definitely want some black pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder in that mix. Sprinkle lovingly on chicken and toss it all around.

Melt some butter - melt some in a little cup or bowl in the microwave (set that aside), then heat up a skillet to medium-high and melt another big, fat pat of butter in there. When the skillet is nice and hot, turn on your stove vent (!) and throw some chicken down. It's gonna sizzle and steam. Let it sit there and sear/blacken for a bit on one side, then - before you flip it over - drizzle a little fresh butter (from the bowl you set aside) over the topside, and hit it with another shake of seasoning. FLIP.

Drain your chicken - which should be a nice brown color on the outside with maybe a few little crusty black bits, and juicy-juicy on the inside! - pat it down with paper towels, whatever makes you feel better about using butter. Slice it into strips or cut it into cubes.

Toss your favorite greens (I went romaine, shredded iceburg, baby spinach) with fresh parmesan. Top with chicken chunks and croutons. Drizzle with Caesar dressing. I threw a few little grape tomatoes in with mine.

[Some kind of ending pun here, like "Hail Caesar!" or something, but less lame.]

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