Hot summer days demand quick and easy meals that still pack a flavorful punch. This 20-minute Asian grilled chicken salad is perfect for those hot weeknights when you don’t want to turn on the stove.
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The weather has finally turned warm for us here in Utah. May was unseasonably cold, but now we’re getting temperatures in the 80s and 90s. This week we broke out the kiddie pool, went to a splash pad, and did an experiment with melting crayons in the sunshine on our back deck. Welcome summer!
Along with all the fun summer activities, I’ve been looking for summery meals that will keep my boys’ very active little bodies fueled up for adventure while keeping my kitchen cool. This grilled chicken salad has been a perfect fit!
Here’s how we came to love this recipe:
Right after Little Brother was born, my wonderful mother came to take care of me for a few days while we all got used to life as a family of four. She cleaned, she cooked, she gave Little Man lots of attention so he wouldn’t feel abandoned, and she snuggled Little Brother so that I could nap when I needed. She’s an awesome mom and grandma that way.
While she was here, one night she created this delicious grilled chicken salad for dinner. It wasn’t anything she had a recipe for. She just looked in my fridge and pulled together an amazing meal out of practically nothing. I guess you develop super powers like that after spending the better part of four decades cooking meals every night.
In any case, this meal has become one of our favorite easy summer go-to dinners. My husband requests it often on super hot days (and he’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy most of the time), and the rest of us love it, too.
If you’re thinking, “There is NO WAY my kids will eat a salad for a main dish”…hear me out. My boys actually love this meal! They don’t eat everything in the bowl, but a lot of the ingredients are totally kid friendly, so I just give them little piles of the stuff I know they’ll eat: oranges, chow mein noodles, chicken, carrots, apples, etc. I try to give them some of the salad itself, too, just because I believe that the more we expose our kids to a variety of foods the more likely they are to eat them eventually. Still, even if my toddler doesn’t go for the spinach (my five-year-old actually LOVES it), the boys are still getting lots of healthy filling foods for their dinner.
One note: I didn’t include any kind of dressing for this salad. We’re not much of a toss-the-dressing-with-the-salad kind of family because my husband doesn’t actually like salad dressing (feel free to tell him he’s weird–I do). I just drizzle a little store bought poppy seed dressing on and call it good. If you want some dressing inspiration, check out this Asian citrus vinaigrette from A Family Feast. I think it sounds delicious!
Asian Grilled Chicken Salad
Note: You can use several different kinds of chicken in this meal to keep it simple, but still full of flavor. My favorite is to quickly grill up my favorite make-ahead teriyaki chicken (get the recipe here). To make it even simpler, sometimes I’ll use the pre-cooked/sliced grilled chicken I buy in the frozen section at Costco (that stuff is brilliant!), or you can even use leftover rotisserie chicken. The options are endless!
Note #2: I’m including ingredient amounts for each item below, but it is really flexible. It’s a salad after all, people. Feel free to add more or less of what you like.
- 2 cups cooked chicken (*see note above)
- 5 cups chopped lettuce (spinach, romaine, butter crunch…or a combination!)
- 1/2 cup carrots, sliced lenth-wise (or shredded)
- 1/2 cup red cabbage, sliced thinly
- 1/4 cup shelled edamame
- 8 oz. can Mandarin oranges, drained
- 1 small apple, diced
- 1/2 cup crunchy chow mein noodles
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- Wash and chop lettuce and place in a large bowl.
- Top with carrots, cabbage, edamame, oranges, and apple.
- Slice or dice chicken and add it to the top.
- Garnish with chow mein noodles and almonds.
- Drizzle with your favorite Asian dressing, if desired.
Source: The Many Little Joys
(courtesy of my mom’s amazing ability to pull a meal together out of thin air)