chinese chicken salad
Meet my new favorite salad: the Chinese chicken salad from Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave. It’s a stunning salad bursting with vibrant purple, green, and orange and it’s got all the right textures going on with juicy mandarin oranges, crispy napa and red cabbage, and crunchy water chestnuts. The tangy soy ginger Chinese/Pan-Asian inspired dressing has the perfect blend of spiciness and sweetness that ties the whole salad together perfectly.
This is the salad that we made over Memorial Day weekend to try to balance out all the ice cream, strawberry rhubarb crumble, garlic fries with garlic aioli, and dim sum we had over the weekend (because frankly, it is completely impossible not to overorder and overeat when you order dim sum). Salads are one of those things that often seem like they should be healthy, but then you find out how many calories are in the Cosi Signature Salad (627!!) which first horrifies you, then leads you to wonder if anything is actually healthy.
I love the standard Asian salads that restaurants serve (come on, this is not traditional Chinese fare!), but it’s hard to know with all the high sodium and high fat stuff that restaurants add how good it actually is (or isn’t) for you. This salad is both delicious and good for you. At 415 calories per serving, it’s still a little higher in calories than I’d like, but it’s 30% less than the Cosi Signature Salad and it also has just a third of the saturated fat (1.5 grams compared to 5 grams). Instead of fried wontons or fried chicken, you have crunchy almonds and water chestnuts and lean baked chicken breast. The salad is a great source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, B6, C and K, and is even a good source of calcium! It’s also chock-full of cancer-fighting and heart-healthy phytochemicals and antioxidants like anthocyanin.
The added bonus that makes me love this salad even more? Unlike most salads, this one is hardy enough to handle being dressed for 24 hours without turning into a soggy, mushy mess, meaning you can have leftovers the next day, or if you’re having company over and want to make it ahead, you can. Not only am I planning on making this all summer long, but it’s going to be my new go-to potluck fare.
Chinese Chicken Salad
There’s definitely some prep involved for this dish between chopping the cabbages, slicing the carrots, etc., but once you’ve got all those ready, it’s really quick to throw together.
You can substitute shrimp for the chicken or use firm tofu if you want to make this vegetarian/vegan. The salad keeps well for about 24 hours.
- 4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1/2 head napa cabbage, thinly shredded (about 6 cups)
- 1/4 head red cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
- 1 large carrot, shredded (about 2 cups)
- 3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced, greens included (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts
- 1 (11-ounce) can Mandarin oranges in water, drained
- 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce or chili sauce
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and brush onto chicken breasts. Arrange the chicken in a baking dish and bake until the juices run clear, about 13 to15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely, and cut into 1/4-inch slices.
- In a large bowl, combine Napa cabbage, red cabbage, carrot, scallions, water chestnuts, Mandarin orange and sliced chicken. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, brown sugar and chili sauce. Pour dressing over salad and toss to combine. Divide among bowls and top each serving with 2 teaspoons toasted almonds.
Number of servings (yield): 4