Favorite new meal creation of last year?
Asian Peanut Chicken Slaw. Hands down! It’s a friend of those Chinese chicken salads that were so popular a million years ago. Back then, when I was working a hundred hours a week, (okay, it was probably 20 years or so ago and 60 hours) I never had time to really replicate my favorite from a restaurant in San Francisco. But this, this makes me forget that Chinese chicken salad ever existed. Maybe because it has so many similarities. Maybe because it’s a bit of a cheater recipe that uses a bottled dressing… and just maybe it’s because I can make it for dinner in a flash. (I’ve been meaning to create a scratch dressing for this recipe, but then I figured that would just add more steps to one of my easy go to weeknight recipes, so I didn’t :) Let me share how this particular meal was born.
I was shopping in Trader Joe’s one day and they were offering a sample of their broccoli slaw mixed with some peanuts and dressed with their Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette. I tasted it. I liked it. The marketing strategy worked and I picked up all three items to make for a side dish. With no prep work, it became an easy side to make often. Then I decided it really didn’t have enough complexity of flavor, so I added some chopped celery, then some green onion….now we were getting somewhere, but it was still missing something. When I figured out it was cilantro, we had arrived at exactly the flavors and textures I was aiming for. Then I bought a few bags of broccoli slaw that were just too woody and ruined the salad. I shared the recipe with my sister and she skipped the broccoli slaw and went straight to shredded cabbage. I followed her lead, added some shredded carrots and never looked back. She later shared with me that she was on her sixth time of eating the basic three ingredient slaw (cabbage, peanuts, dressing) and was addicted!
I started making it with angel hair pasta to bulk it up and make it a bit heartier for a main dish. That lasted for awhile…kind of reminded me of cold peanut noodles (yum!) but my husband was not a big fan of the noodle iteration. So I decided to bulk it up with protein instead and chopped up some cooked chicken breasts. Now we had a hearty main dish salad.
One day I served it over a bed of hot rice and BOOM! My flavor, temperature and texture world exploded! The cold salad on top of steaming hot rice? Ugh! Sooo good! Sweet and spicy, peanutty, crunchy, crispy, goodness on top of hot tender rice. It works so perfectly with this cold slaw. Even though I’ve added more ingredients to the basic three that I started with, it still comes together so quickly and you can customize it to suit your taste. (As in, it’s really great with noodles, or skip the chicken and keep it vegetarian, add different vegetables or maybe water chestnuts? My daughter likes to sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on hers.)
So here you go. My favorite new meal from last year, now in heavy dinner rotation. Asian Peanut Chicken Slaw over Perfect White Rice. If you’re a fan of Chinese chicken salad or cold peanut noodles…
then I think you’re going to love this recipe as much as I do.