Sunday, July 4, 2010

Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

A really popular new addition to the weekly menu at our house is the entree salad. We have salad with every meal, but quite often we take it a step further and build a bigger better salad and enjoy that for dinner. Tonight its an Asian Sesame Chicken Salad. Summer is such a great time for salad...a satisfying meal that doesn't leave you in a food coma for the rest of the night and costs very little to prepare. The best part is the creativity you can draw upon in designing the perfect salad. I love going to the grocery store and stocking up on all sorts of fresh vegetables and salad fixin's with no idea how they are all going to come together. One staple on my list is Mann's Romaine Hearts. Romaine is an awesome base to any good hearty salad. These also work great for lettuce wraps...but more on that later. Mann's offers a package of three heads of Romaine hearts for $2.97. I stick with Ken's Asian Sesame dressing most of the time. It has great flavor and my grocery store quite often gives it away free via coupon when i buy a bag of packaged spinach.

What you will need:

1 head romaine lettuce hearts ($.99)
1 chicken breast ($2.00)
1 roma tomato ($.30)
1/2 cucumber ($.22)
1 handful baby carrots cut into sticks ($.25)
1 can water chestnuts ($.50)
1 can mandarin oranges ($.50)
1 handful baby bellas ($.75)
Sprinkle of chow mein noodles ($.40)
7 tbs Asian sesame dressing (free...this time around)

How to make it happen:

I start by pounding out a chicken breast and letting it marinate in a small bag with 1 tbs of the Asian sesame ginger can kick it up a notch by adding a tbs srirache. I let it marinate for about a half hour or so...the flavor sticks when you grill it. Once i have the chicken on i turn my attention to the salad. I first open and dump the oranges and chestnuts into a strainer to drain. I like to chop my lettuce pretty thin on this one, but it really doesn't matter. The tomato and cucumber i like to chop chunky so you really get that flavor in the salad. The baby bellas can be cut in half or even left as whole slices depending on the texture you prefer. All of the ingredients excluding the chicken and chow mein noodles go in a big bowl and get tossed together. I like to add the chicken and chow mein noodles once the salad is plated. This is one flavor infused salad that will feed four for around $6.00 If you have more than four to feed simply add another head of romaine for a buck. The best Asian salad I ever had was in Los Angeles at a place called Chin-Chin. I remember way back in the day paying more than 6 bucks for a single portion of salad...well as they say hind sight is 20/20. This is a really simple recipe that totally leaves room for personal interpretation....don't be can do it!


Put a 1/4 cup of dressing in a saucepan and bring it up to a boil, constantly stirring, for about three minutes as it begins to thicken. Reduce heat for another two minutes and allow it to thicken further. Once cooled drizzle over the salad. I love this technique. The end result really sticks to the salad as opposed to pooling on the plate underneath.

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