Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken SaladThe feel like I should start by saying that the relationship between cabbage and I is still in the infancy stage.

I didn’t eat much of it growing up and soggy coleslaw from the deli was certainly not going to sway me toward this rubbery, bitter vegetable.  But slowly, with much cajoling and the promise of something fresh, crisp, and crunchy, I have begun to warm up the idea of adding cabbage into my regular menus.  I started with it piled on these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches and now I can’t make it without the slaw.  I moved on to this stellar take on fresh cole slaw and am now ready to embark on recipes that surpass just condiments or side dishes.  Soon, when cabbage is so prevalent in the markets because of St. Patricks Day, I plan to experiment with a lovely dish I saw once that had bacon, caramelized onions, cabbage, and pasta.  Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Until then, I am sharing my version of a Chinese Chicken Salad I pulled off the Eating Well website about a bazillion years ago.  Again, this is not anything I would ever have ordered in a restaurant, but something about the ingredients in this salad made me…well…just feel healthier reading the recipe.  Kinda like I was absorbing the nutrients by osmosis!  Soaking in the vitamin C and fiber like rays of the sun on a June day!

And then I ate it.  Forget osmosis!  I want to EAT this stuff!  The mix of textures and flavors in this are so spot on it is a full celebration on a plate.  It has a bit of an asian bite, a great toasty crunch, and a freshness that is sweet and tart.  I can’t even find the words to explain how welcome its lightness is here at the tail end of January.  I usually make this in the summer because it is so great on a hot day, but since it doesn’t rely on summer veggies like tomatoes, fresh zucchini, or crisp greens, it is perfectly suitable to these cold frigid months.

So now, you can get back on track with any healthy New Years vows that you have probably already abandoned and I can add another successful and reliable cabbage recipe to my permanent stash.  Win win all around.
Chinese Chicken Salad Chinese Chicken SaladOne Year Ago: Banana Sour Cream Pancakes
Two Years Ago: Gringo Chicken Soup & Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Three Years Ago: Midnight Crunchies & Crispy Bars

Chinese Chicken Salad
Adapted from Eating Well
I like to save myself some time by getting the pre-packaged shredded cabbage but if it doesn’t look promising during your shopping day, or you have the time to spare, pick up a medium head of green cabbage to shred yourself here.  Cabbage should be medium sized and in a bright, heavy, tight ball with no discoloration or wilting on the outside.  Napa cabbage is nice to use, but plain old cheap green cabbage tastes just as fantastic in this. To make this gluten-free, omit the ramen noodles.

1-3 oz- pkg ramen, season packet discarded
1/3 c sliced almonds
1 T sesame seeds
2 tsp canola oil
3 c cooked chicken, preferably white meat, diced or shredded into bite sized pieces
1 pkg shredded cole slaw mix or 1/2 of a medium head of green or nappa cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
3 scallions, chopped

1/4 c orange juice
1/4 c rice or white wine vinegar
2 T honey
2 T of soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Crush and break up the dried ramen noodles into a small bowl and toss with almonds, sesame seeds, and canola oil. Spread onto a baking sheet and toast for 4 minutes, tossing a bit, and toasting for 3 more, just until crisp and lightly browned-DO NOT LET THEM BURN!  Set aside until ready to eat.  Just before serving, toss all salad ingredients together with the toasted crunchy mixture, drizzle on some dressing (you won’t use it all), taking care not to drown the salad, and toss, season with salt and pepper if necessary, and serve immediately.