Thursday, March 31, 2011

Crunchy Asian Chicken Salad

I enjoy salads.  My husband enjoys meat.  Without a substantial source of protein, as in beef, chicken, or pork as opposed to tofu, beans, or nuts, he is back to the refrigerator looking over its contents within an hour after dinner.  That means "salad" for my husband is the first course of a meal, not the meal itself.  I, on the other hand, am completely satisfied with a green leafy salad loaded with lots of colorful vegetables and crunchy textures.  Add a light and tasty dressing and I am one happy and content gal.  Completely satisfied.  Maybe even overjoyed.  Our happy compromise is a loaded salad with meat.  If he wants, my husband can have an additional serving or he can load his plate with extra meat, and I can skimp on the meat or make myself a vegetarian version.

Poaching boneless skinless chicken breasts is a quick and easy cooking method for fast weekday meals.  Rather than spending an hour roasting the chicken, poaching takes 20 minutes, which is the amount of time I need to chop the rest of the salad fixings and make a dressing.   When time is at a premium, I immediately think of poaching, making recipes like these part of our family's happy compromise meal plan.  I doubled the chicken when making this recipe, refrigerating half of the chicken for another meal;  well, in theory half, but given what I already told you about my husband, it was probably a quarter.  Also, the dressing is from a completely different recipe and source and it makes much more than is necessary.  The remaining dressing stores beautifully in the refrigerator for up to one week.  Just make sure to re-whisk the ingredients again before using.

One last thing.  Even though I decreased the amounts of the ingredients from the original recipe by half, I felt like this was a BIG salad.  Even for my family of six who ate heartily, there was a large portion left over (ok--only 5 of us were eating the salad since my 9-month old opted for some pureed squash instead).  Keep this in mind when trying to make the correct proportion for your needs.  I would recommend only initially dressing half of the salad first.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 cups water
1 one-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced or passed through mincer
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1 1/2 cups red cabbage, sliced in thin strips
1/2 cup carrot, cut in matchstick-size pieces
1 cup English cucumber, seeded and sliced thin on the diagonal
1/2 cup celery, sliced thin on the diagonal
1 1/2 cups baby spinach, stems removed and torn

Ginger-Sesame Dressing:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or rice vinegar)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons honey (or brown sugar)
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced small
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 medium scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
1/4 cup peanuts, chopped


1.  Place water, ginger, garlic, and peppercorns in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.  Add chicken breasts, reduce to simmer, and cover.  Poach for 15 minutes.  Turn off heat and leave chicken in water for 5 additional minutes.  Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

2.  Remove chicken breasts and discard water, ginger, garlic and peppercorns.  Cool to room temperature and shred into bite-size pieces (about 2 1/2 cups).  Season with salt to taste.  (Chicken can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

3.  Place red cabbage, carrots, English cucumber, celery, and spinach in large mixing bowl.  Toss to combine.  Add shredded chicken.

4.  For dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender.  Add 2 tablespoons water and blend until smooth.   Add amount of dressing as desired to large bowl with vegetables and chicken; toss to coat. 

5.  Divide onto serving plates and top with scallions and peanuts.  Serve.

Salad recipe adapted from the kitchen sink recipes, Jan. 2008
Dressing recipe from

This recipe is linked to It's A Keeper, Tip Day Thursday, and Simple Lives Thursday.


Barb @ A Life in Balance said...

I can't wait to try your recipe. I've been on a salad kick this week for lunch to help myself eat as many veggies as possible.

Like your husband, I need to have a bit of protein and fat in my salads. I usually add leftover chicken, chickpeas, and hardboiled eggs to build up my salad.

Mo 'Betta said...

I LOVE Asian salads! I've made quite a few in the past few months!

Lynn said...

I need more dinner salads like this one in our dinner plans. Weather permitting, I'll probably throw the chicken in a quickie Asian marinade and let my older son grill it. The dressing sounds yummy and kid-friendly!

Mamahollioni said...

Barb--this salad would be a great way to use that leftover chicken.

Mo'Betta--Me too! I would love to see yours too.

Lynn--Ohh, grilled chicken with an Asain marinade sounds GREAT!

SEllett said...

Oh, oh, oh...all of us Ellett girls are willing to be your sample guppies! Yum! Yum! Yum!...and I love the way you present the food/ lovely fabric and dishes!

Lynn said...

I am making your salad tonight with some grilled orange chicken!

Mamahollioni said...

SEllett--I would be happy for you to be my sample guppies. What would you like to try first??!

Lynn!! How did it turn out? I would love the recipe for the orange glaze for your grilled chicken. That sounds amazing...much better than poached:-)