Thai Crunch Chicken Salad

Here is a wonderful salad to enjoy while we continue to suffer through an unbearably hot summer.  Here in the Midwest, we have experienced triple-digit temperatures on multiple days in June and July.  On those days it hasn’t actually hit 100 degrees, it’s been well into the 90s.  I heard a report on the news saying that during the month of June, 40,000 high temp records had been broken across the country.  Global warming, anyone?

Dinner salads move to the top of the list for me during the dog days of summer.   I am a major fan of any Thai dish where peanut butter is involved, so this Thai crunch chicken salad looked very enticing to me with its spicy oriental dressing drizzled over a mixture of chopped napa and red cabbages, edamame, cucumbers, and carrots.  Topped with green onions, fresh cilantro, and chopped peanuts, this salad is summer fresh, delicious—and, yes, crunchy.

In order to save time, I quite often will use a supermarket rotisserie chicken—not in this case, though.  The chicken for the salad is baked in the dressing which also functions as a marinade.  The wonderful flavors of the marinade permeate the chicken as it bakes and vice versa.  I actually saved the pan juices because they were plentiful and so delicious.  The marinade cooked with the chicken mellowed out and was quite yummy.  Roger preferred  the zippier non-baked version while I liked both equally.

Now, I know I use adjectives like “outstanding” and “fabulous” a lot to describe recipes I post.  Since my plan has always been to post only those recipes I think are “frantastic,” you’ll just have to get used to those terms.  The dressing for this salad is outstandingly fabulous (OK, I threw in an adverb with the adjective to mix it up a bit).  It’s a little bit zippy and a little bit sweet and absolutely “makes” the salad.  As I mentioned, the baked version of the marinade, infused with the flavor of the chicken, is a bit mellower and very good in its own right.

If you like the flavors of Thai cuisine and you like salads, this is a recipe you’ll want to make more than once this summer.

One year ago:  Peanut Swirl Brownies, Swedish Pancakes

Thai Crunch Chicken Salad

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Ingredients

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Ingredients for Dressing plus Marinade

  • 1 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 6 tbl. brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
  • 2 tbl. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoon-sized knobs of ginger, grated
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 tbl. soy sauce

Ingredients for Salad

  • 1 small napa cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 small red cabbage, chopped
  • 6 green onions, sliced
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, sliced and quartered
  • 2/3 cup chopped or sliced carrots
  • 2/3 cup edamame
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2/3 cup chopped peanuts

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.  Season chicken with salt and pepper, then place in the baking dish.

Combine chili sauce, vinegar, coconut milk, sugar, garlic, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce and lime juice in a saucepan, whisking to combine.  Bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and pour half of the sauce over the chicken, turning chicken to coat completely.  Set remaining sauce aside for dressing the salad.

Bake chicken for 20-30 minutes (depends on size of chicken breasts), or until it is cooked through.

While chicken is cooking, combine all salad ingredients, except for peanuts, in a large bowl and toss.  When chicken has finished cooking, let cool for a few minutes; then either shred or cut into chunks.  Serve salad, top with chicken, top with peanuts, then top with dressing.

Source:  A recipe from How Sweet It Is

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