I adapted this Chinese Chicken Salad for dinner last night. I had the “original” (minus the noodles) while out with a friend at this popular pizza chain restaurant last week. As I’m eating, I thought: “Why not make this salad for dinner? … something light after all the sweets we have been eating since Thanksgiving”. Not that that’s all I have been feeding my brood, but it kinda feels that way. A light, easy dinner is just what we needed.
So, I went ahead and made my version of their Chinese Chicken Salad using fresh mandarin slices (instead of canned), and green cabbage (instead of napa cabbage – a type of Chinese cabbage that is more oval than round). Either, or both of the original ingredients would work fine in here if these are not available. I just thought extra cabbage crunch and some fresh satsuma mandarin – now in season and at their best – would be better instead.
I personally love California grown, Satsuma and Golden Nugget varieties; they are slightly larger and have more of a sweet, orange flavor than say the “cuties” variety. I am not a fan of Murcott or the mandarin from Spain. Honestly, speaking here, I find them watery and tasteless. If you have them available, I encourage you to try satsumas if you haven’t yet.
Peeling mandarins is a fun chore, the fragrant “mist” that comes out when peeling the skin is irresistible. I just want to peel, peel, peel and eat, eat, eat … more than a few slices. I love the scent of citrus, all citrus. I also love how pretty these orange gems look in a big bowl, giving a room a jolt of color. It couldn’t have picked a better season to give a pick-me-up with all its Vitamin C, helping us keep the cold bug away. I added many mandarins in here. They add a nice natural sweetness to the salad.
I didn’t add any fried rice noodles to keep it light and didn’t want any noodles to take away from all the healthy ingredients. I feel like my kids would just look for more noodles and I am trying to lean everyone here towards grain free meals, but don’t quote me on that. I am still in the “exploring” phase.
I’m not sure if it was all the crunchy cabbage we were chewing that tricked us into feeling full because we were pleasantly stuffed. There was no need for noodles. There were so many different ingredients dressed in the simple sesame dressing that adding noodles just may be a thing of the past.
You know how I love to prepare as much as possible ahead, this salad is no exception. You can make all the components of this colorful salad a day ahead, as well as the dressing, and assemble it before serving.
For a protein-rich vegan option, try canned black beans or great northern beans, they make a tasty substitute. Leftovers make a nice lunch to pack for school, or work, well, that is if there are any leftovers … enjoy!
3 chicken breasts (bone in, preferably organic) roasted and shredded
1/2 red cabbage
1/2 green cabbage
2 bunches romaine lettuce hearts
6-8 fresh satsuma mandarins
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar (I used O gluten free brand), or apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons xylitol (I use Epic Dental brand)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
juice of one mandarin (cut crosswise then squeeze into jar over a strainer)
For the salad:
Finely slice the red, and green cabbage. Remove ends and finely slice romaine lettuce. Trim ends of scallions (white and green side) and finely slice. Peel and grate carrots, or put into a mini food processor to finely chop. Peel clementines then remove pith from slices. Add all the ingredients into a large serving bowl.
For the dressing:
Add all the ingredients into a glass jar and shake until well blended or whisk all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
Pour dressing over salad, toss to combine well. If making ahead, dress the salad just before serving.
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