Irresistible chicken salad

  • Chicken and Vegetable Salad with Asian Dressing is a delicious dinner that can be prepared in advance. Goran Kosanovic/ For the Washington Post

Washington Post
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

This salad of shredded chicken tossed with a colorful slaw of red bell pepper, green cabbage and carrot is designed to hold up well in the refrigerator, so it is an ideal make-ahead dinner, packed lunch or potluck party dish. The key is to store its aromatic and Asian-inspired dressing separately, then toss it with the salad within several hours, or right before serving, so all the components stay fresh-tasting.

For the chicken, I employ what I consider a foolproof “oven-poaching” method, which involves baking boneless, skinless breasts – pounded evenly thin – covered, on a baking sheet. It gives a similar result as poaching in liquid would, but with more control over the temperature so there is less risk of overcooking the meat.

The meat is chilled and then pulled apart, so it is shredded like the vegetables, and all the ingredients nestle nicely together. You can enjoy this salad over greens, on top of a warm rice bowl or in a wrap sandwich – or serve it as called for in this recipe, along with large leaves of Boston or Bibb lettuce to use as edible cups.

Chicken and Vegetable Salad with Asian Dressing

For the salad

1¼ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

11/2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage

1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, scrubbed well, and then cut into ribbons with a vegetable peeler

¼ cup packed cilantro leaves

16 large Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves, for serving

For the dressing

3 tablespoons walnut oil or olive oil

3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons honey

1½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger root

1 small clove garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts between pieces of plastic wrap, then pound them to an even ½-inch thickness.

Arrange them in a single layer in a baking dish; drizzle both sides with the olive oil and season with the salt. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or just until the chicken has cooked through. Uncover and let cool.

When you’re ready to assemble the salad, pull the chicken apart with your fingers into thin strips. (Alternatively, you could skip the cooking step and use 3 cups of meat pulled from a cooked rotisserie chicken.)

Combine the chicken, cabbage, bell pepper, carrot and cilantro in a mixing bowl.

Whisk together the walnut or olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, toasted sesame oil, ginger, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper flakes in a medium bowl to form an emulsified dressing. Pour over the salad and toss to coat evenly.

Serve in or alongside lettuce leaves, to be eaten taco-style.