The picnic season is now upon us. And that means toting cold salads in the cooler to the local park, a favorite campground, or to the neighbor’s for a backyard get-together. This Chinese Chicken Salad would be a top contender in our family for any of these outings.
I’ve been mixing up this salad for a number of years, but I’m usually not the one who suggests it be made. More often than not, it’s my husband or oldest daughter who asks, “Hasn’t it been awhile since we’ve had Chinese Chicken Salad?”
Every time I make this, it looks a bit different. My family prefers it be made with green beans, but I also like to change it up with asparagus or sugar snap peas. Sometimes I add an extra sweet bell pepper, using a colorful mix of one red, one green, and one yellow. Other times I just feel like a couple of red ones. And shelled edamame beans are a lovely addition, too. There’s just so much you can do to tailor this salad to whatever you have on hand or are craving.
Chinese Chicken Salad
6 large chicken breasts
freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. green beans, asparagus, or sugar snap peas – ends removed, cut into 1″ to 2″ pieces
2 sweet bell peppers – red, green, yellow, or orange – cored, seeded, and sliced into 1″ to 2″ pieces
1 10-oz. bag shredded carrots, or a couple peeled carrots that are thinly sliced
4 green onions (white and green parts), sliced thinly on the diagonal
2 T. white sesame seeds, toasted
for the dressing:
3/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. soy sauce
2 T. dark sesame oil
3 T. honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 T. white sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
First, prepare your chicken. Depending on what I’m in the mood for, I’ll either roast or grill the chicken breasts. Whatever you choose to do, first rub some olive oil onto your chicken breasts and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. If roasting, place the chicken on a sheet pan covered in foil (easy clean-up!) and place in a 350° oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until chicken is just cooked. If grilling, place on a medium-high grill and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until chicken is done. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then shred the chicken by using two forks to pull apart into bite-sized pieces.
While the chicken is cooking, blanch the green beans in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Immediately place them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.
If you don’t have some toasted sesame seeds on hand, toast some now. Do this by placing the 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds (2 T. sprinkled over the finished salad, plus 1 T. in the dressing) in a dry saute pan. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until they are nicely browned and fragrant. Remove to a plate to cool.
Combine the shredded chicken, green beans, peppers, and shredded carrots in a large bowl.
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Gently combine. Sprinkle the green onions and 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds over the top and season to taste. I always add some freshly cracked pepper over the top. I prefer to serve it cold, but it’s also just fine at room temperature.
Source: adapted quite a bit from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Parties!
Here are a couple more picnic-worthy salads for a tasty summer!
Turkey and Wild Rice Curry Salad
I’m linking up with the following:
Cheryl at TidyMom for I’m Lovin’ It (My Favorite Hair Products)
Kim at Recipes to Run On for her Linky Party (Huevos Rancheros)
Robyn at Add a Pinch for Mingle Monday (I Made That)
Rachel at A Southern Fairytale for Mouthwatering Monday (Delicious Bites)