We are having the usual spring warm/cold weather here in Colorado, where its sunny and feels like summer one day and you wake up to light snow on the next day. I call it "menopausal spring" :) I'm constantly debating hot or cold food for meals - my brain is saying "mac and cheese" while the scale is shouting "salad"!
This classic chicken salad is my go-to choice when the seasons are in transition. There's plenty here to fill you and excite the taste buds while still keeping the calories under control - especially if you go light with the add-ons like chow mein noodles and nuts. Its also a great dish when you have company coming.
Chinese Chicken Salad (serves 2-3 large dinner sized salads or 4-5 side salads)
3 Tbsp. seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 tsp minced garlic (about 1/2 a clove)
1 tsp. finely minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp. canola, soy or peanut oil
Optional: 1 Tbsp. mandarin orange juice syrup (from can, see salad ingredients below)
To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until blended. Alternately you could put the ingredients in a lidded jar and shake vigorously.
1 pound romaine lettuce (a large head or hearts)
2 cooked chicken breasts or about 2 cups cooked chicken, sliced or shredded
1.5 cups (about 4 oz) shredded cabbage
2 medium carrots, shredded or sliced
2 scallions (white and tender green parts) cut into thin strips (I cut mine on a diagonal)
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2/3 cup cashews and/or slivered almonds
Mandarin orange segments, 11 oz can, drained (reserve 1 Tbsp. syrup for dressing)
If you like heat, add a few dashes of Chinese chili oil to the dressing
Crunchy chow mein noodles (the kind that come in a can)
Substitute chopped roasted peanuts for some or all of the cashews/almonds
Sprinkle in 1 - 2 tsp. white or black sesame seeds before tossing salad
Toss in a handful of fresh snow peas cut lengthwise into strips
Add 1/2 cup raisins for a sweet twist
Whisk a tsp. of wasabi powder or paste into the dressing for extra zing
Separate the romaine leaves, wash and spin dry throughly. Tear leaves into bite sized pieces.
Combine the romaine, chicken, cabbage, carrots, scallions and cilantro in a large mixing bowl and toss to mix well. Just before serving whisk the dressing (or shake it if in a jar) to recombine and add about half. Toss to coat. You may want to serve the rest of the dressing on the side so people can add more to their own taste. Top with nuts and and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Get Cooking by Mollie Katzen