As we’re nearing the summer solstice and the longest day of the year, all my memories of my summers growing up outside of Atlanta come rushing back … quickly eating dinner to go back outside for another hour before having my bath and getting ready for bed … catching lightning bugs … long days spent in the community pool playing Marco Polo or Sharks and Minnows … running around in the sprinkler … hours and hours of tromping in the woods behind our house … kickball and Big Wheels … mosquito bites and scrapes … the scents of Bactine, Coppertone and Off …

Great stuff.  I don’t know if kids with “play dates” and clubs have the same fun, but boy did my brother, sister and I have a great time.

The reason for the walk down memory lane is that I was thinking about the expression “salad days” – the time of your youth and inexperience (basically, the thinking behind it is that we can chew and digest the salad of our youth which is maybe a little too difficult to deal with when we’re older).  Now, of course, the phrase is coopted by the food section of your local paper to talk about tomatoes, green beans and vinaigrette.

But, hey, the sun is out, the weather is warm and the produce is fresh … whatever you like to call summer food season, forget the oven and make yourself a giant salad and a cold drink then go sit outside and listen to the kids playing in the long summer evening!

By the way – if you don’t want to add the chicken to this salad, it’s perfectly good without it – I would suggest adding a little toasted sesame oil to the dressing, though, so you still get that nice lovely, nutty flavor.

Asian Chicken Salad

  • 2-3 chicken breasts, sliced into strips the width of your finger
  • Small glug peanut oil
  • Drizzle toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cups salad greens (I like romaine, but mixed greens would work, too)
  • 1 cup pea shoots (they add a nice freshness to the salad, but if you can’t find them, some finely sliced cabbage would be good, too)
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 6 radishes, trimmed and grated
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 6 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 large bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 20 or so mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, still warm but not piping hot
  • 1 cup peanuts, roughly chopped or just bashed to break them up a bit

Dressing

  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Heat a wok over high heat and drizzle in the peanut oil, then cook the chicken strips in 2 batches until browned and cooked through.  Set the cooked chicken aside on a plate and drizzle with the toasted sesame oil.  In the meantime, cook your rice.  Me, I like to use a packet of microwave brown rice for this since it’s just a simple salad.

Mix the dressing together and let sit while you chop and grate the rest of the salad ingredients – this will give the flavors some time to marry.  Toss the rest of the salad ingredients – minus the chicken, rice and peanuts – together in a large bowl.  Then, just before assembling, taste the dressing and adjust as necessary for flavor.  Add the warm ingredients and peanuts, pour the dressing over the lot of it, toss thoroughly and serve.

Seriously addictive!!!

Advertisements