Friday, January 4, 2013

Easy Chinese Chicken Salad, Made Lite

I should give myself a pat on the back. I'm actually participating in the  "Healthy Recipes" season. Don't get too excited. I haven't gone "Health Nut".  Do not adjust your station. This is only temporary.

I do eat pretty healthy--most of the time. (Of course, there's my weakness for fries). Okay, I have a sweet tooth and I've been known to eat oatmeal cookies for breakfast  However, I enjoy fresh fish and even enjoy eating vegetarian meals. I try to play the "balance game".  Exercise? Well, that needs work. I'm a fair weather swimmer,  and that's all I'm saying.

I am blessed to live in the Salinas Valley--where I can buy organic vegetables pretty much year-round. Did you know that the Salinas Valley of California is called "The Salad Bowl of the World"? It's true!  Our home is right in the thick of it. My daily commute to work is right past acres of Driscoll strawberries. I drive past lettuce fields, broccoli, cabbage-- just about anything fresh and green. This is Steinbeck Country!

I'm a little weird about something, given that I enjoy cooking so much.  I love kneading bread dough, making homemake cakes and enjoy making a fancy dinner for company.   Pssssssst.  Here's my inside secret. Lean closer-- I hate making salads!  'Tis true.  Don't ask me why, but I get bored with all the chopping. (Except for  this favorite salad.)  Thank goodness for Spring Mix Salad. I grab a handful, mix up a fast vinaigrette, toss on some shredded carrots...and, if in season, some cherry tomatoes and that's what you get.

 I'll tell you one more true confession-- I just think that salad, as a main meal is wrong.  It's kind of like Chinese food. If I eat a salad for dinner, I feel hungry an hour later. My husband, on the other hand, existed on salads for dinner during his bachelor days.  He takes one to work, for lunch, every day. Yawn.

Today was different for me. Today, I saw a picture of a fresh Chinese Chicken Salad on "Just a Taste" and my taste buds alarms started going off.   I wanted to eat this. Now.

At potlucks, and certain restaurants, I'll hone in on a Chinese Chicken Salad. I love the crunchy textures of fried won-ton strips, and sugary dressing. Throw in some mandarin oranges, and I'm a happy girl.   The problem is, that a lot of those bottled (or restaurant) salad dressing are loaded with sugar and a lot of calories.  This recipe sounded so easy and good, and so I my mind was made up.

When my husband came home from work (it's my last day of vacation), he was really surprised to see his wife making salad for dinner.  I took a shortcut and bought a rotisserie chicken-- another thing I rarely do, since I have an easy Roasted Chicken recipe

Because it's winter, and I can't shoot photos at 6pm without having to drag out a cumbersome light stand, this salad isn't exactly the most photogenic shot.  I didn't have time to perfectly arrange each piece of lettuce or almond slice with tweezers-- and to pile the lettuce two feet high. I didn't have time to style the shot with fancy napkins and two forks crossed over one another-- with a glass of ice water in the background.

Just take my word for it, that this salad is really, really good-- and it made a perfect guilt-free dinner.  
The dressing was light, and not too sweet. It had  a nice crunch from the crispy noodles and almonds, and I loved the mandarin oranges.   I actually felt good about making this salad, because the colors are pretty and it did fill me up.

So, maybe I'm beginning to soften up against my distrust that a salad can't be a dinner course. Maybe.
I do know this--I'll make this again.  But if you come to our home, as a dinner guest-- you can bring the salad? K?

One more thing. I baked a decadent Coconut Cake. I just thought I'd wait a few more days before I spring it on you. After all, I don't want to be blamed for tempting someone to blow their diet.  Stay tuned.

A printable recipe card is at the end of this post.  Apparently, if you are using Internet Explorer, you can't view my recipe cards. I'm hoping that Key Ingredient will fix that bug.  You can always click here for the recipe.

Pin It


Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

Spring mix has certainly made salad making easier. We love salads and eat them often. I've always enjoyed the prep work and find it relaxes me.

Your salad is gorgeous and filled with color and crunch. I make a salad with the noodles and it's one my husband's favorites. I should remember to use the crunchy noodles more often :)

TKW said...

I hate all the chopping, too! You are not alone in that regard. This salad sounds delicious (and I think the photos came out pretty dang good!) I'll be making this!

Lynn said...

I'm also one who doesn't often eat salad as a main dish. This looks like a great recipe, I'm going to try it!

Joanne said...

I HATE making salads also. At least, lettuce-based ones.

If they have fun mix-ins (like this does) or a really awesome dressing (like this does)...I might be convinced to make them. Maybe. :)

Penny said...

I'm with you on salads. I find them boring too. But this one is definitely a keeper. Happy New Year Debby.

bellini said...

This is just what we need to keep us on the right track Debbie

Jeane M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kate said...

This sounds so delicious. I think I can be least until you post that gorgeous coconut cake!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I know what you mean about salads. I have terrible knife skills because about a quarter of the way through heavy chopping, I just get bored and start chopping sloppily and all my veggies are chunky and uneven.

I'd be willing to chop a bit for this though. You did a great job of lightening up the recipe without sacrificing flavor.

Karen said...

This looks so fresh and delicious. Love the crunch in there.