Friday, April 13, 2012

Asian Chicken and Spinach Salad

The summer months are just around the corner. Which means it's time to exchange some of those heartier meals for some lighter more refreshing ones. I love main dish salads. They are filling without being heavy. As is the case with this Asian Chicken and Spinach Salad. Loaded with fresh, vibrant veggies, tender poached chicken and a flavorful dressing, this salad makes for a satisfying meal.


Asian Chicken and Spinach Salad
~serves 4~

Note* If your family eats in shifts like mine often does, or you aren't planning to eat it all at once, keep the salad components separate until your are ready to eat it.

Ingredients:
For the dressing (makes just over a cup)
6 T. rice vinegar
3 T. creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 T. hoisin sauce
1 T. low-sodium soy sauce
1 T. toasted sesame oil
3/4 t. chili-garlic paste (or you could substitute with your favorite hot sauce)
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 t. grated fresh ginger
1/3 c. canola oil
1 1/2 T. toasted sesame seeds
For the chicken
1 c. water
1/4 c. low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. mirin (sweet rice wine)
4 (1/8 inch thick) slices of ginger 
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Remaining salad ingredients
6 oz. package baby spinach
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded (about 1 c.)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into matchstick pieces
3/4 c. shelled edamame
11 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
1/3 c. sliced almonds, toasted

Instructions:
1. Make the dressing. In a blender combine all the dressing ingredients except for the sesame seeds. Blend until well combined. Add the sesame seeds, pulse two or three more times. Pour into a small bowl and set aside until ready to use.

2. Poach the chicken. In a large skillet combine all the ingredients for the chicken. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the chicken over, cover and gently simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. (Adjusting heat as necessary to keep the chicken at a gentle simmer, a hard boil will produce tough chicken.) Remove chicken from poaching liquid and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly. Toss with a spoonful or two of the dressing.

3. Finish the salad. Combine all the vegetable components in a large bowl, add the dressing and toss gently to combine. Divide salad onto individual plates, top with chicken and toasted almonds.

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