Sweet Chile Cashew Chicken Salad

This recipe started out in our little black book several years ago from a potluck dish brought by a friend’s mom every year to his Christmas party.  The original was always a hit, but the main ingredient was thin noodles – either angel hair pasta or rice noodles.  So, when we changed our way of eating, this one got left behind…a page in the book to be turned past as we planned out the menu for the week and prepared our grocery list.  Until yesterday, when Karen took a look and said, “Hey, we should try making this into a salad.”  And so we did.  And while it should have made enough to have leftovers for lunch, somehow there wasn’t a bite left when we got up from the table.  I feel pretty safe stating that it was at least as good as the original…

Gather Up:

  • 1-1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 lb mixed fresh greens
  • 4 scallions, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped (stems and all)
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted cashews, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 tbsp low-salt tamari
  • 4 tbsp raw local honey
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (not shown)
  • Use your imagination for other Asian-inspired ingredients to add in…maybe 1/4 lb or so each of sliced shiitake and oyster mushrooms, or some julienned carrots and zucchini, or some slivered bell peppers

Heat the coconut oil in a large deep frying pan on medium heat.  When the oil is hot, place the chicken thighs in and cook, turning every 5 minutes or so, until just cooked through.  You can put a lid over the pan for the first 5 minutes to help in cooking them a little faster if you are in a hurry (since this is the longest step of the recipe).  When the chicken has cooked all the way through, transfer to a cutting board to cool a little, then cut up into roughly 1″ pieces.

While the chicken is cooking, get a small saucepan out and heat the sesame oil over medium heat until hot.  Toss in the red pepper flakes to sizzle for about 10 seconds (the kitchen will fill with the smells of spicy roasted sesame).  Pour in the tamari and the honey and whisk to fully combine.  The mixture will start boiling pretty quickly…reduce heat to low and simmer for about 2 or 3 minutes to thicken slightly.  Remove from the heat and let cool.

Grab the 32-quart mixing bowl and toss in the mixed greens, scallions, cilantro, and cashews.  Toss to mix well.  Next, add in the chicken and the cooled dressing (it’s fine if it’s still a bit warm).  Toss again to coat everything with the dressing and mix the chicken in well, then transfer to a serving bowl.

Serve up in individual bowls and dig in.  Don’t feel ashamed if you find yourself going back for seconds either – everyone in our house did.  (I can say, though, that next time I will be adding mushrooms to it as well.)

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