A Tasty Summer Salad

 

Chinese Chicken Salad

I'm a bit late in sharing these photos and this recipe (I know, the 4th of July is SO over... on to Labor Day!) but we had a great summer salad last weekend that I'd encourage you to add to your repertoire for summer gatherings. I made a potato salad, but wanted another side dish for people to choose from. I am not a huge coleslaw fan, so I perused my cookbooks and came across the Chinese Chicken Salad in Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties! book.



Let me just state for the record that I love Ina. I love that she unabashedly uses an insane amount of butter and sugar in her recipes, she seems to throw fabulous parties for her fabulous friends every night and that her adorable husband comes home and praises her cooking.  Plus, she lives in a beautiful home with an enviable garden and the perfect grilling situation. What a life!

We had only a tiny bit of this leftover, which led me to conclude that people enjoyed it. I have adapted Ina's recipe in a few ways. First, I halved the dressing and still thought there was plenty on the salad. It coated all of the ingredients and had great flavor, but I think the salad otherwise would have been drowning in it. Second, I sprinkled some peanuts on top of the salad as a garnish and to add a a bit of crunch. Third, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts because that is what I already had on hand and it saved me the time of shredding the meat off the bone - I just sliced the breasts into small pieces. Finally, I doubled the amount of red bell pepper and asparagus in the salad - I wanted it to be more like a salad than a main dish.

Chinese Chicken Salad
From Barefoot Contessa Parties!
Yield = 12 servings as a side dish 

Ingredients

  • 4 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on or 6 skinless and boneless chicken breasts if you prefer - I used more because I think these are smaller in size than the bone-in split breasts)
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends removed, and cut in thirds diagonally
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded
  • 2 scallions (white and green parts), sliced diagonally
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 cup peanuts (optional - to garnish the salad)

Ingredients for the Dressing

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/8 cup good apple cider vinegar
  • 1.5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub with the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin (if you used bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts), and shred or slice the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.

3. Blanch the asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Cut the peppers in strips about the size of the asparagus pieces. Combine the cut chicken, asparagus, and peppers in a large bowl.

4. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Do ahead: I prepared this salad earlier in the day and chilled the salad before serving. In my opinion, it is best served cold. We had some salad leftover and it still tasted great the next day.