Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Asian Rainbow Chicken Salad

Asian Rainbow Chicken Salad is the name, deconstruction is the game.

From all the way back to the first hints of Roo's textural sensitivities and oral delays, the concept of deconstructed dinner has been my friend. Still is. The concept is simple.

See, there's this for you...
And this for them...
And it's so freaking easy! Start with a slew of fresh colorful vegetables. This is the perfect time to shell out a few extra cents for the rainbow pack of bell peppers or purple carrots if you happen to find them. Hit the grocery store, use what I used or raid your crisper drawer and go from there. As long as you have a nice variety of colors and textures, nobody's going to complain. Cucumbers, grape tomatoes, corn hacked off the cob...it's all good. Just don't forget the cabbage. It's the base for your salad.
So, have you played Crunch a Color with your kids yet? I'm not getting any kickbacks here, promise, but you really need to own this game. Order it right now. Then serve this salad for dinner an prepare to be amazed at what your children will eat at the promise of 15 points.

Asian Rainbow Chicken Salad
adapted from my personal idols, Jenny Rosenstrach and Andy Ward, via bon appetit

For the dressing
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp grated peeled ginger
kosher salt

For the salad
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (keep some seeds if you like it hot)
1/3 small head green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/3 small head red cabbage, thinly sliced
3 carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
5-6 scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
3 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 cups baby spinach, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup pepitas
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

To make the dressing, combine the first 6 ingredients (oil through ginger) in a small bowl. Whisk well. Season with salt. If you'll be serving the dressing to anyone who can't handle a little heat (like my kids for instance), reserve a portion of it in a second small bowl. Add the jalapeño to the remaining dressing and stir.

Arrange a portion of the colorful sliced vegetables, chicken, and pepitas like a rainbow onto plates - one for each kid. Place a small bowl of (jalapeño-free) dressing in the center and serve to the munchkins in your life. 
Bean's a fan too
Roo likes it.

Now, combine the remaining vegetables and chicken in a large bowl. Drizzle the jalapeño dressing over the top and toss it all together. Sprinkle pepitas and toasted sesame seeds on top and voila...an elegant dinner for the grown-ups too.

If you happen to have a couple of buttermilk fried chicken strips lying around, go ahead and throw those on the plate too. Special thanks to the Pioneer Woman for the leftovers.

And if you're looking for even more variation and deconstruction inspiration, this Thai Steak Salad deconstructs equally well.

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