Today is not only Leap Day but also National Frog Legs Day, (do you think they purposely made them coincide because of the way frogs leap or is it just a total coincidence?) No matter and no worries either, I won't be sharing any recipes for the little croakers-- I couldn't even dissect my own back in Biology all those years ago--my lab partner kindly took pity on me and did it all himself. I don't even want to think about it! Instead I'm going to put my mind on tender white meat chicken, crunchy carrots and cucumbers enveloped in a simple thai-style peanut dressing topped with chopped roasted peanuts. There! That's so much better! Happy thoughts people, happy thoughts!
Chicken salad is one of those things that I love every time I make it and then promptly forget about for months! Silly me! And this one is especially delicious and out of the ordinary with that slightly sweet and spicy dressing. Yummy! Plus it comes together in a snap. You can even make it with a store-bought rotisserie chicken if you like. And it's really flexible--I used carrots and cucumbers, but you could really toss in any veggies you like and have handy.
It's light, refreshing, crunchy, colorful, sweet and spicy all at the same time. Great for lunch as is, on some good bread or as a scoop atop some fresh greens. And while I know it's still winter, eating more summery foods like this helps remind me that the murkiness of this winter shall soon pass. So make this little "taste of spring" and join me tomorrow as we "leap" into a new month and hopefully warmer, sunnier weather that screams out for salads like these!
Thai Peanut Chicken Salad
Makes about 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes (plus cooking time for chicken if you don't buy one ready-made)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup lime juice (I used about 4 limes)
- 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (you can use natural if you like)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 shakes of red pepper flakes
- Salt to taste
- 2 pounds cooked chicken breasts, shredded (It's about 5 cups and you can use the breast meat from a store-bought rotisserie chicken or roast a few chicken breasts, let them cool and shred the meat)
- 1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into matchsticks
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or grated
- 4 scallions, cut thinly
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped finely
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1. Place the oil, lime juice, peanut butter, water, sugar, garlic, red pepper flakes and 2-3 shakes of salt into a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
2. Into a large bowl, place the chicken, cucumber, carrot, scallions, and parsley and pour the dressing over them. Toss well to coat. Season with salt if necessary and let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Just before serving, sprinkle with the peanuts.
3. The salad is great on its own, as the filling for a sandwich or on top of salad greens. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
Note: Recipe adapted from The Best Chicken Recipes by the Editors of Cook's Illustrated. I tinkered around with proportions and spices and only used white meat chicken.