Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thai Chicken Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing

Before I get to the recipe for this amazing salad, I have a very important update regarded my club-footed baby girl!

She's walking! Every night before I put Emma to bed, I tell her to give Matthew a kiss goodnight and she will quickly crawl to wherever he is and give him a big smooch on the cheek. Well, last night, she WALKED over to give him a kiss. All the way across the room! And ever since then, she has been walking from place to place - still with quite a bit of timidity - but walking nonetheless! I am thrilled. She's quite proud of herself, too!

Matthew just loves helping her out with walking. He loves holding her hand and steadying her while cheering her on: "You doing it, Baby Emma! You is walking!" Melts my heart.

Anyway, this salad. There really is not much to say about it other than it is absolutely fantastic. It's also a meal where all the different components can be prepped throughout the day so that there is not so much work to do immediately before mealtime (because that's usually when the kids are the crankiest!!!). I prep all the veggies throughout the day and have the chicken marinated and ready for Paul to slap on the grill when he gets home. Then everything is tossed together with the vinaigrette and served! The vinaigrette is both sweet and spicy, there is a delightful crunch from the fresh vegetables, and the warm, grilled chicken melds together perfectly with the other components. I am in love with the peanut dressing that is reserved for drizzling over the top. It really adds something special to this meal. Paul agreed that this was truly a man's salad - actually satisfying! Half the time he complains that salads do not fill him up enough. We were all fighting for the leftover pieces of chicken - not a bite was left. I'm already debating when we'll have this next - it's that good! If you're a fan of Thai flavors, this meal will not disappoint!

Thai Chicken Salad with Sweet and Spicy Dressing
from Mels Kitchen Cafe

2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs

4 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons sweet Thai chili sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Peanut Dressing:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons very hot water, plus more as needed

4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups chopped napa cabbage
1 cup diced cucumber, peeled or not
1 cup edamame
1 cup small diced carrots
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 green onions, white and green parts finely chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
Salted, chopped Cashews

For the chicken, whisk together the oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper. Place the chicken in a ziploc bag or shallow dish and cover with the marinade. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours (I definitely opt for the longer marinade time). Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill 6-7 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and let cool. Chop into bite-sized pieces.

For the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until well combined. Refrigerate until ready to use. The dressing can be made up to a week in advance.

For the peanut dressing, whisk together all the ingredients until well combined. Add additional hot water, one tablespoon at a time, until the dressing is smooth and thin enough to drizzle. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss together all of the salad ingredients with the cooled and chopped chicken. Pour the vinaigrette over the top and toss until the ingredients are coated with the dressing.

Serve the salad with the peanut dressing on the side to drizzle on top. Have plenty of extra salted cashews too.

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