Eeeeee- spring is almost here!
That means lots and lots of fresh spring veggies, herbs, and fruits. I’m talking asparagus, artichokes, peas, rhubarb, leeks, radishes, baby greens, morels, and of course, STRAWBERRIES.
Yep, I’m so freaking excited.
This is the time of year where we go from rich hearty soups and stews to fresh bright salads- packed with tender greens, herbs, and crisp vegetables.
The days are starting to get longer, you may feel renewed and energized, and find yourself craving lighter meals. I love the natural progression of seasons and the change in diet and lifestyle that follows. It gives some periodic change and excitement to the ins and outs of daily life.
So, to celebrate the new season, I’m bringing you this delicious chicken salad that is packed to the brim with fresh herbs and veggies.
I’m calling it a Vietnamese salad, but that’s kind of a stretch. I didn’t have easy access to traditional vietnamese ingredients like lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, thai basil, celery leaves, etc, so I just subbed some easier to find ingredients like lemon & lime, and common herbs. It’s definitely not an authentic vietnamese dish, but the flavors are pretty close 🙂 A great compromise in my book.
Rice noodles, fresh cabbage, and citrusy marinated chicken form the base of this salad, and are highlighted by delicious ad-ins like green beans, tomatoes, daikon, cucumber, carrot, celery, cilantro, green onion, and peanuts. Tossed with a vibrant dressing made of brown sugar, lime juice, chile, garlic, oil, and fish sauce, each bite is overwhelmingly full of flavor.
With so many vibrant ingredients, each bite is like a new party in your mouth. You just can’t stop eating and experiencing it.
Plus, this recipe makes like 8 generous servings, so it’s perfect for a crowd (or lots and lots of leftovers 😉 )
Enjoy the taste of great cooking!
- 4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs)
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 5 tablespoons lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 small red chile, deseeded and minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 12 oz green beans, stems removed
- 4 oz dried rice noodles (rice sticks)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size (halve the small ones, quarter the large ones)
- 1 cup julienned daikon radish
- 1 cup julienned English or Persian cucumber
- 3 cups thinly sliced savoy or napa cabbage
- 1 cup grated carrot
- 1 cup thinly sliced celery
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 bunch green onion, dark green parts chopped, white parts discarded
- 1 cup salted roasted peanuts
Start by marinating the chicken for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Place the chicken in a large ziplock bag or baking dish. Add the marinade ingredients (cilantro, lemon zest, lemon juice, lime zest, olive oil, salt, and pepper) to the bag or dish and toss to mix and coat the chicken well. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
To make the dressing, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl (brown sugar, lime juice, red chile, garlic, olive oil, and fish sauce). Set aside for now.
When the chicken is done marinating, put a large heavy skillet on the stove and add a few tablespoons of olive oil. Heat over medium-high flame, take the chicken breasts out of the marinade (it’s okay if there is still marinade stuck to them) and add them to the pan. Cook about 6-8 minutes on each side, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (check it with an instant-read thermometer). When done cooking, let rest in pan until cooled.
While the chicken is resting, cook the rice noodles. Place them in a large bowl & cover with boiling water. Let rest for about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain well, then place on a cutting board and roughly chop into about 2 inch pieces. Place in a LARGE serving bowl (this salad makes A LOT of food, so you’ll need a large bowl to toss it in. I had to use an extra large pot 🙂 ) and set aside.
Next, add some water to the bottom of a small saucepan and add a steamer insert. Add the green beans, cover the pot with a lid, heat over medium flame, and steam for a few minutes until bright green and crisp-tender. When done, remove from the pot and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Move to a cutting board and chop into thirds. Add to the large bowl/pot with the rice noodles.
By now, the chicken should be cool enough to handle. Remove from the pan and use your hands to shred into bite sized strips. Add to the bowl/pot with the noodles and green beans. Pour any delicious pan juices to the bowl/pot as well.
Next, add the rest of the veggies and herbs (cherry tomatoes, daikon, cucumber, cabbage, carrot, celery, cilantro, green onions) and peanuts. Toss to combine. Whisk the dressing again to combine, then pour over the salad. Toss well until everything is coated with dressing and serve!