This salad makes me hopeful.
Not only did I make this salad this weekend (including chopping the peppers and green onion without gagging), but I also ate this salad. And it tasted good! And I didn’t even need to pick out the red peppers or the green onion to enjoy it. I ate healthy veggie-filled food! It’s a damn miracle. Maybe, I’ve turned the corner on the evil morning sickness monster. Maybe, my food aversions are fading away. Maybe, I can start sharing more interesting recipes again.
*knocks feverishly on wood*
We’ve been eating a lot of chicken salad in our house lately. In fact, we’ve been eating a lot of all kinds of ready-to-eat salads (tuna salad, egg salad, etc.), because it’s so easy to make up a big batch and then just eat on them all week-long. My body is still mostly boycotting dinner—well, other than bowls of cereal and PB&J sandwiches—so getting something a little more substantial for lunch is a necessity for me. Plus, it gives Craig something that’s easy to grab when he is ready to eat some dinner.
This is such a fun twist on your typical chicken salad. Usually, chicken salad is mostly chicken, with some other stuff tossed in. In this particular salad, the chicken works in harmony with tons of other delicious (and good for you) items—thinly sliced Napa cabbage, shredded carrots, julienned red peppers, chopped cashews. It all comes together to make this amazing collection of flavors and textures that is totally different from the chicken salad you’re used to. Adding all these extra veggies is a great way to stretch a few cups of cooked chicken out—instead of four servings that two cups of chicken might cover usually, this salad easily will serve 8-10.
The nutty, rich dressing for this salad uses a few tablespoons of cashew butter. If you’ve never used cashew butter, it’s available nowadays at most grocery stores near the peanut butter (I think even Jif makes it now). And it’s crazy delicious. But cashew butter ain’t cheap, and if you don’t plan on using it for anything other than this salad, I can’t, in good conscience, ask you to shell out $8 for a tiny jar. Instead, my suggestion is to buy a bag of raw cashews and make your own cashew butter (which is easy peasy if you have a food processor or a high-speed blender). You’ll need the cashews for the salad anyway—just pick up a bit extra.
Craig ate this salad atop of a bunch of salad greens. Since I’m still sans-salad greens, I ate mine straight-up. We’ll probably serve up leftovers on rye crisps, with crackers and maybe even on toasted bagel if we’re feeling crazy.
Because this could easily be considered a slaw (that happens to have chicken in it), you could also serve this as a side dish. Heck, you could even leave the chicken out completely and serve it as a side dish to these sticky chicken drumsticks (and then invite me over, please).
Hopefully this the first of many regular recipes coming back into the rotation. Everyone please send lots of anti-morning sickness vibes my way. Keep the monster away!
Cashew Chicken Salad with Mandarins
Prep Time: 30 minutes | Cook Time: None | Makes: 8-10 servings
For the Dressing
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons cashew butter
- Juice and zest of one lime
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh cilantro
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Salad
- 1/2 head Napa cabbage, shredded or sliced thinly
- 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup julienne red bell pepper (about 1/2 large)
- 1 cup Mandarin orange segments (canned or fresh)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped cashews
- In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine all the salad ingredients and toss until well-mixed. Pour the dressing over top, and toss to coat. Serve immediately, or let flavors meld for 30 minutes in fridge for best flavor.