Chicken Cashew Crunch Salad with Sesame Dressing

 
Chicken Cashew Crunch Salad with Sesame Dressing

I find it quite fascinating how our bodies naturally gravitate towards certain foods certain times of the year. Winter time, I generally crave comfort, hearty meals that are full of carbs. As I am sure most of us do. We have to store that extra fat or replenish those calories after being in the cold and burning through stored energy. So naturally, when the weather changes, the warmth begins to float through the air, my cravings then turn away from stick-to-your-bones meals, towards lighter, fresher meals. It’s such a natural process that most of the time we don’t even notice that it’s happening. But sometimes, I find it necessary and interesting to stop and take a minute to understand why our bodies are now craving different things. I generally try to listen to my cravings (well, healthy ones that is), and act upon them. Hence the salad flood this spring. It’s still a little early for those of us who don’t have greenhouses for all the local, super fresh vegetables, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy the influx of fresh vegetables and fruits in the grocery store that are coming from the south. Which finally brings us to this salad.

 
Chicken Cashew Crunch Salad with Sesame Dressing

This salad brings the crunch, the chewy, and the freshness. Oh, and I can’t forget the satisfaction. There are so many different flavors and textures going on here. But they all compliment each other perfectly. I haven’t put crunchy chow mein noodles in a salad in ages. I forgot how wonderfully crunchy they are. Strangely satisfying. This salad takes a minute to do all the chopping, but it comes together pretty quickly. This is definitely something you can prep in advance. Your choice to dress the salad beforehand or not. I dressed the whole thing, then had leftovers for a few days after, and I found it to be just as good. Just toss the salad a few times before eating. If you don’t like soggy chow mein noodles and nuts, then I would add those when you serve the salad. I served this salad with our favorite homemade bread to make this an all-round satisfying dinner.

 
Chicken Cashew Crunch Salad with Sesame Dressing

Chicken Cashew Crunch Salad with Sesame Dressing

Yield: 5-7 servings

For the chicken

  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil

  • 1 Tablespoon honey

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 lb. chicken tenders or thin chicken breasts

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 3 Tablespoons white vinegar

  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil

  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

For the salad

  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, finely shredded

  • 1/2 head of purple cabbage, finely shredded

  • 2 cups carrots, shredded

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions

  • 2 cups cooked peas

  • 1 cup cashews

  • 2 cups crunchy chow mein noodles

Directions

To make the chicken, preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a small baking dish with tin foil. Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, honey and garlic. Dredge the chicken through the soy sauce mixture, then place in the prepared baking dish. Pour the remaining soy sauce mixture over the chicken. Place in the oven and bake until cooked through and a thermometer registers 180ºF when inserted in the center of the chicken, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, shred or slice into bite sized pieces.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a large glass measuring cup, or glass jar, whisk or shake the ingredients together until combined.

Place the salad ingredients, all except the cashews and chow mein noodles in a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, reserving some for individual servings. Toss the salad. Top the salad with the shredded chicken, cashews and chow mein noodles. Serve immediately, with extra dressing on the side.

Source: Adapted from Pinch of Yum