Perfect Picnic Fare: Sesame Mango Salad with Grilled Chicken

This is probably one my favorite dishes that I have come up with to date.  It has a great mix of flavors.  The dressing is tangy and a little nutty.  If you want to step up the spice, just add more sriracha sauce.

This is a flexible dish that travels well for picnics and keeps well for lunches / leftovers for days after. Though, I do love it best when you can have the hot chicken on top of the cold salad, it works just as well with all the elements cold.

It’s nice because there is only one item you may have to buy gluten-free (soy sauce), so it is easy for folks with gluten-free loved ones that don’t have a gluten-free kitchen.

This is also perfect for vegan families, just substitute tofu for the chicken (I wouldn’t marinade tofu for as long, but otherwise, it would work very well).

Makes 4-6 servings.  Takes about 40 minutes start to finish.  Marinade the chicken the night before (takes about 5 minutes).

Chicken:

1-1.5 lbs boneless chicken

3T rice wine vinegar

3T tamari or any type of gluten-free soy sauce

1t red curry paste

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 T sesame oil

1T sugar

dash of black pepper or chili flakes

1. Slice the chicken into thin cutlets or use chicken tenders.

2. Combine all the rest of the ingredients in a shallow dish.  Whisk together.

3. Add the chicken and toss it lightly with your fingers to ensure it is evenly coated.  Cover the dish and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.  Try to turn halfway through, but it isn’t the end of the world if you can’t.

You can also whisk the marinade together in a small bowl and then pour into a large Ziploc bag, add the chicken, zipper the top and then shake to coat the chicken.

The next day, make the salad and dressing and cook off the chicken:

Salad:

8 oz or 250 g of rice noodles

1/2 T sesame oil

8 oz or 250 g edamame

3-4 T sesame seeds

Small handful of basil

1/2 an English cucumber (or 1/2 of a regular cucumber, seeds removed)

2-3 green onions

1/2 mango or 1/4 of a pineapple

Dressing:

2T orange juice

3T tamari or any type of gluten-free soy sauce

dash of turmeric

1/2 t sriracha

1 t red curry paste

1 T sesame oil

1/4-1/3 cup vegetable oil

1. Start by heating water in a medium saucepan to a roiling boil.  Add the sesame oil.  This will keep the noodles from getting sticky and clumpy.  Don’t worry about cutting the long threads down now; it’s easier to deal with that after the noodles are cooked.  Cook the rice noodles as directed.  During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking the noodles, add the edamame.

2. While the noodles are cooking, toast the sesame seeds in small pan over low heat, until they smell nutty.   Dice the cucumber, green onions and mango (or pineapple). Image

3. Chiffonade the basil by stacking the leaves with the largest on the bottom.  Then roll the leaves together and thinly slice. Image

4. By now the rice noodles will be done, they cook fast.  Drain them into a large colander in the sink.  Rinse immediately with cold water.  Using a pair of tongs, start to pull the noodles up in clumps and cut with scissors to the desired length. Image

5. While the noodles finish cooling, make the dressing.  In a small bowl combine all the ingredients except for the oil.  Whisk together and then slowly stream in the oils.

6. Combine the sesame seeds, noodles, edamame, green onion, cucumber, mango and cucumber in a large bowl.  Toss together.  Then drizzle over the dressing and toss again.  I like to start by using half the dressing and seeing if that is enough and then add more as needed.  Taste for seasoning.

7. Put the salad in the fridge to cool further.  Heat a pan or grill and cook the chicken through, until no longer pink.  About 5-7 minutes per side, depending on how thick your chicken pieces are.  I like to slice the chicken before putting it on the salad.

8. Plate up the salad with the chicken on top.  You may want to add some additional green onions or basil, thinly sliced, for garnish.

Image

I didn’t cut the pineapple here as finely as I should have.  I would probably do much thinner slices next time so the flavors blend in more with the rest of the dish.

When I made this, I didn’t think any of the components needed more salt than what was in the tamari, which is naturally pretty salty, but everyone has different taste, so you may want to adjust the seasoning a bit more.

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