Thursday, January 2, 2014

Asian Chicken Salad with Fresh Ginger Dressing

Asian Chicken Salad with Fresh Ginger Dressing

Happy New Year!  After all the decadent eating over the holidays I am ready for a healthy start to the new year!  How about you?  Great dinner salads are the perfect way to go.  I love a healthy salad with a little bit of protein added, it fills you up with so many delicious vegetables and adds enough energy to last you all evening.  For this favorite recipe I love using a rotisserie chicken from a favorite market whenever I don’t have time to cook chicken at home, it's such a huge time saver.  Toss in some thinly sliced red pepper for some added color and flavor. You can add the Glazed Almonds for a garnish instead of the wonton strips if you prefer.  My kids love the fried wonton strips and will try to sneak them plain!  However, the Glazed Almonds add a more sophisticated and cleaner flavor for the adults.   Either way, I LOVE this salad!   

2 cups cooked, chopped chicken, about 2 breasts or meat from a rotisserie chicken
½ package wonton wrappers, cut into ½ inch strips, (optional)
1 package ramen noodles, flavor packet discarded
1-2 heads romaine lettuce, chopped
4 green onions, diced
1 carrot, peeled and grated
4 fresh mandarin oranges or tangerines peeled and sectioned
1 cup fresh snap peas
1 cup fresh shelled peas, or frozen if needed

Make the dressing and divide in half.  Reserve half the dressing for assembling salad, if needed. Place half the dressing in a large glass salad bowl.  Set aside.  Crush ramen noodles while still in the package and add to bowl of dressing.  Add chicken, carrots and green onions and peas to dressing and stir to combine.  Cover and refrigerate a few hours to soften the noodles. If you are using wontons, in a non stick skillet, fry wonton strips in a little oil until golden OR separate wonton strips and sprinkle all over baking sheet sprayed with bakers spray.  Baking the wonton strips will save you time and some calories, however they are just not quite as good as fried!  You can use either method for a great crunch on your salad.  Bake wontons at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.  Toss chopped lettuce, mandarin oranges, snap peas with chicken mixture just before serving.  Place mixed Asian Chicken Salad in a beautiful salad bowl and top with crunchy wonton strips or Glazed Almonds, just before serving.  Add additional dressing as needed.

Fresh Ginger Dressing:

1 cup canola oil
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
¾ cup rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2, 1 inch pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.  

Glazed Almonds:
These almonds are delicious and so easy to make.  No need to buy the expensive store bought variety because you can whip these fresh ones up in just a few minutes.  They are so worth it and make a beautiful garnish and presentation on a salad. 

1/4 cup sugar
1 cup slivered almonds
pinch salt

Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat.  Add sugar, almonds and salt.  Stir gently and constantly until sugar melts and sizzles a little and almonds brown. (No multitasking while making these!) You've got to be right there stirring until they are done. It will only take a few minutes!  Garnish Asian Chicken Salad with Glazed Almonds just before serving, not before as almonds will get soggy if you add them any earlier.

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