Sunday, March 24, 2013

Asian Chicken Salad with Homemade Peanut Dressing

Lately I've been craving (and therefore consuming) Asian food like nobody's business. I've always liked Asian food, but lately it seems I just can't get enough of it! So when I spotted this recipe on Pinch of Yum, it didn't sit on my "must make" list for long before graduating to my "have tried" list.

I more or less followed the recipe, except had to come up with some creative substitutions for Chinese five spice seasoning in the chicken marinade and hoisin sauce in the dressing. I also left out the edamame that she called for because the texture and taste of edamame don't sit quite right with me. But if you like edamame, then by all means add some in!

This salad was great on its own as a full meal as well as in smaller servings as a side dish. It was pretty filling with the seeds and nuts, chicken, and healthy fats in the dressing. When I packed some to take for lunch on a work day, I put a helping of the chicken and veggies in a Tupperware, nestled an itty bitty Tupperware container of dressing inside, and laid a small baggie of the nuts and Ramen on top. Right before eating I just tossed it all together, so everything was nice and crunchy and tasty.

Asian Chicken Salad

Adapted from Pinch of Yum
Yield: 2-3 servings, depending on if it's your whole meal or just a side dish.

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. Chinese five spice seasoning (Pinch of Yum substituted part Garam Masala and part Cajun seasoning; I substituted about 1/2 Tbsp. Garam Masala, 1/4 tsp. cumin, and shots of cinnamon, ground ginger, and black pepper)
1 chicken breast
1/8 cup chopped green onions
1 to 1-1/2 cups slaw or shredded lettuce (I used broccoli slaw)
1 cup shredded carrots
1/8 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 cup crumbled up dry Ramen noodles (or chow mein noodles)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Asian dressing of choice (recipe below for peanut dressing)

In a quart-sized plastic zip bag, combine the soy saucegarlic, ginger, sugar, and seasoning. Add the chicken and marinate for 1 hour. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken in the sauce, covered, for 5-10 minutes, or until cooked through. (Or bake chicken in the sauce at 400 degrees, for about 20-30 minutes, turning occasionally, until cooked through.) Allow the chicken to cool, then shred or chop.

Build the salad by tossing together the green onions, slaw/lettuce, carrots, cilantro, and shredded chicken. Right before serving, add in the almonds, Ramen noodles, sunflower seeds, and dressing.

Homemade Peanut Dressing

This recipe will likely make about twice as much as you need for the Asian Chicken Salad recipe above; it all depends on how heavily you dress your salad.

2 Tbsp. sugar (I used half white, half brown)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup oil (I used about half coconut oil,* half canola; some sesame would be good if you have it)
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
Sprinkle of garlic salt (I probably used 1/8 to 1/4 tsp)
Sprinkle of ground ginger
Squirt or two of honey
A few cracks of black pepper
Scant 1/3 cup water (as needed)

Whir together all ingredients in a small blender or food processor, such as a Magic Bullet. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. *Note: if you use coconut oil, the dressing will solidify if you refrigerate it. Just zap it in the microwave for a few seconds to liquefy it. 

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