Light, flavorful, crisp and delicious. Tonight was the first time that I have made this salad and I absolutely love it, it will definitely be one of my go- to recipes this summer. I served it as the main course for dinner, but it would also be a great side for an Asian inspired dinner or a fun dish to bring to a summer BBQ or pot luck- sure to be a hit with everyone. It would also be great for a luncheon or shower menu. I found the recipe (and adapted of course) from Cat Cora's cookbook, Cooking From the Hip- lots of fun recipes to inspire light and easy cooking this summer. With a baby due in about 8 weeks, moving into a new home next week, and our first hot, muggy Midwest summer, you can bet that light and easy are a top priority. I can't wait to make this again! PS- for my kids, I just served everything deconstructed and omitted the dressing.Napa Thai Chicken Salad
Serves 4 main course or 8 as a side. Adapted from recipe by Cat Cora.
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons store bought Thai peanut sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (or regular sesame seeds if you don't have black)
2 Boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil for searing the chicken
1/2 to 1 head Napa Cabbage (about 8-9 cups), thinly sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup roughly chopped cilantro
6 green onions, thinly sliced, (don't get too deep into the white- stick with the green and light green for this dish)
1/2 to 1 cup peanuts for sprinkling on individual plates (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
FOR THE DRESSING: In a medium bowl/Tupperware that has a lid that fits tightly, mix all ingredients together, secure lid, shake for 30 seconds, set aside.
PAN-SEAR THE CHICKEN: Preheat the oven to 375. Pour the olive oil into an ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle chicken breasts generously with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using tongs, place the chicken breasts into hot pan and sear for about 1 minute on each side. Place the pan into hot oven and roast the chicken for 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 and cook for another 20 minutes. Remove chicken from oven and set aside to cool. The longer you wait to shred the chicken, the more moist it will be (just like the tin-foil chicken method). Shred the chicken with 2 forks once cool.
FOR THE SALAD: While the chicken is cooking, prepare vegetables accordingly and toss them all together
TO ASSEMBLE: Toss cabbage, carrots, celery, cilantro and green onions together. Toss in the chicken. Pour dressing over salad and lightly toss all together making sure the dressing is coated evenly. Taste, add salt and pepper as desired. Garnish each plate with roasted salted peanuts or serve on the side
** Great make ahead meal** I made the dressing, seared the chicken and cut the vegetables around noon. At 6 when dinnertime arrived, all I had to do was toss everything together- so quick and easy. You can do this process up to 24 hours in advance.