You ever get the feeling like – no matter how hard you work at it – you just can’t get it together? Do you ever feel like I can’t get it together? No kidding.
I’ll dispense with the “It’s a new year'” intro because yeah; it’s March, and I’m just now working on my 2017 goals; I know some of you can relate. Goal Numero Uno is to get back to this, to here, to writing – I need the practice, but I need the time, and that’s been lacking so far this particular year.
Maybe that’s not Goal Numero Uno: my actual number one goal this year is to be okay with being me, and to stop beating myself up if I don’t get everything done that I want to. Something about me: I could plan and idea and project myself into the ground with things I want to do, so I’m trying to sift though ideas and prioritize them while at the same time slow down, enjoy, and ease up a little on myself.
High priorities: write more. Cook more things that aren’t for work. Stop overthinking things which are for work. Plan whole entire days not around food. Prepare for busy and not-so-busy weeks. Find ways to streamline my days. This salad I’m getting ready to introduce you too? It helps with the streamlining. Why? I’m happy you asked.
When you are working on big, indulgent recipes, you can’t just eat them for lunch. Big food makes you sleepy, less focused, and markedly less productive; that’s just a fact. So when I want to bang work out all day (and over a few days’ time), I make this salad. It’s everything: greens all over the place, herbs, protein from nuts and chicken, and a sassy Asian dressing that pulls the whole thing together. It feels like restaurant salad, but it’s just a bunch of shredded produce tossed with lean meat and crunchy things. And it lasts all. dang. week without getting wilty on you.
The trick is keeping the components separate: the way this works best is to throw everything but the chicken and vinaigrette together in a large bowl and refrigerate it. Keep your vinaigrette in a lidded jar, and throw that chicken in a covered dish also. When you’re ready, portion it out into a mixing bowl, toss with some dressing, and eat. Clearly if you’re making this salad for your family or friends as a meal, toss it all together and you’re good: leftovers this way, if eaten in the next day or two, should be totally fine.
I’m doing this differently than the original recipe directs: you want to make your own chicken, cool, but rotisserie rules my world when I’m busy. I tried this “salt the cabbage” business the first time I made this, and skipped it the next time: I noticed no difference here, and I’m not big on unnecessary work. Unless it’s toasting nuts and seeds, which sorry, is completely necessary, especially when you’re talking about almonds and sesame seeds, because their flavor completely transforms when toasted.
Adapted from this lovely salad over at Food52.
Asian Chicken Salad to Get You Through The Week
Serves | 6 to 8 |
for the vinaigrette:
- 1/2 cup grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil, although that one is my favorite for this)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoons sugar (this is optional, but nice: if you’re against sugar, leave it out)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
for the salad:
- 1 whole rotisserie chicken, any kind you like (I get a pretty plain Jane one for this)
- 1/4 medium head small green cabbage
- 1/2 head small red cabbage
- 1 bunch curly kale
- 6 scallions (all the parts!), trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds, pan-toasted 1 teaspoon chile flake
- 1 1/4 cup sliced almonds, pan-toasted
- fresh ground black pepper
Pull the meat off your cooled rotisserie chicken and chop it as finely as you like; set aside. Using a mandoline* (or a big knife and your grown up knife skills), core your cabbages and slice the leaves into very thin ribbons and place in a large bowl. Tear kale leaves from thick stems, chop leaves into very thin ribbons and toss with the cabbage (discard stems, obviously.) Add scallions, cilantro, chile flake, and toasted sesame seeds and almonds; toss until nicely incorporated. Season with a little pepper, as needed.
*Listen, friends: mandolines are no joke. I know you see them on cooking shows, and that’s fine, but you must watch what you’re doing the entire time you’re doing it when you’re working with a mandoline, so be safe. If I find out you’re fooling around, I’ll tell you the really mega-horrific story involving a local chef that I get told every single time I’m with the Feast ladies and I whip out my own mandoline. Believe me, you don’t want to hear it.
So if you’re doing this to prep for lunches, just transfer that big bowl of greens and nuts to a lidded casserole, cover, and store in the fridge. Do the same with your chicken, and the vinaigrette should already be in the fridge, so you’re good! Alternatively, if you’re serving this as or with a meal, simply add the chicken to the big bowl of green things, add half the vinaigrette, and toss to coat, adding more dressing as needed. Season with a little salt and pepper right before you serve, if you need to.