main dishes · Salads

It’s Just Too Hot to Cook, and Chinese Chicken Salad Two Ways

Dear Joey,

It’s summer, so don’t be surprised if I answer your daily question of “What are we doing for dinner?’ with Chinese Chicken Salad. You know the one: it’s the salad that I make more times a year than probably any other salad, the one that my friends ask me (beg me?) to make when it’s too hot outside to think about cooking, the one that makes me happy just thinking about it.

My mom got the recipe from my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Terry, who made the salad with cabbage and peanuts and a very oily dressing. Over the years the recipe became my mom’s recipe, and eventually it became my own (as these things often do). Sometimes we make it with cabbage and peanuts, but most often (and especially when I make it for friends), it’s the version using romaine and almonds that shows up. UPDATE: we only ever make it with almonds now that we have a child who is allergic to peanuts.

The reason I make this so much? Well, I guess you could blame my mother (at least I come by it honestly). It was her go-to dish for church potlucks, the easy answer to the “What’s for dinner?” question on hot summer nights, and one of the few salads that my brothers and I would all voluntarily eat and enjoy. It just wouldn’t be summer without having it at least a dozen times, if not more.

Good thing you like it, huh?

Love, Scratch

Chinese Chicken Salad, Two ways
 
This salad is cool and crisp, light but satisfying, and easy. It’s also very versatile. Make it with romaine and almonds or with cabbage and peanuts (or try whatever combination of those things that sounds good to you). You could really prep the ingredients any way you like and toss them together in any proportion you like, but here’s how I do it. Whatever you do, you won’t be disappointed. It’s all around the perfect summertime meal. But I make it all year long because it’s just that good.
Made with Lettuce:
2 Hearts of Romaine, sliced into ribbons
1/2 English cucumber, sliced into half moons
2 carrots, sliced
3 green onions, sliced
2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
toasted almonds (omit for NF)
                                                       crunchy chowmein noodles (omit for GF)

Made with Cabbage:

1 medium head of cabbage, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
2 grilled chicken breasts, chopped
salted peanuts (omit for NF)
crunchy chowmein noodles (omit for GF)
Here’s where the salads are the same…

Dressing Ingredients:

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup plain vinegar
1/4 cup low sodium Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
1 1/2 T sesame oil
1/4 c sugar, plus more if you like a sweeter dressing
Method:
Toss everything except crunchy noodles into a big bowl and coat evenly. The more dressing, the better. I find that it tastes better if you let it sit for about 15 minutes before serving. Add the crunchy noodles and enjoy.

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