06 July 2015

Eats: teriyaki chicken salad

Even though we’re back in the States from our Norwegian adventure, we’re not exactly home. As this year appears to have the most jam-packed summer travel schedule yet, we are on vacation over the holiday weekend. Right after we return from vacation, I’m heading to a conference, then to another worky jobby thing, then to another family visit... whew. It’s fun, but it’s exhausting, and the brainspace left for other stuff is frighteningly small.

So let’s keep things simple today. You know what’s simple? Salad. Salad is easy-peasy. Salad is one of those things that makes my mom ask me if I have a recipe when I most definitely don’t. Salad is made mostly by wandering around a grocery store and buying what looks good and doesn’t need cooking. Let’s be real, that’s how today’s teriyaki chicken salad came about.

Lettuce, carrots, mandarin oranges, bell pepper, sugar snap peas, and bean sprouts. I wanted broccoli slaw too, but my grocery was out, and I forgot about ginger until after the fact (though grating some over the top might be tasty).

Oh, and note that I kept this salad super low-effort by buying as much of my produce pre-cut. Yes, I love cutting up vegetables (seriously, it is as soothing as painting trim), and yes, pre-cut is more expensive – both good reasons to avoid the pre-cut route. But I also have approximately negative ten minutes to make dinner each night with this baby around, so pre-cut it is!

The other way to keep it easy: pre-made dressing and marinade.

Red wine vinaigrette is a good choice for this salad – I don’t like having a huge collection of very specific dressings, and this one works in this Asian dish but lots of other salads too. And this particular brand of marinade is super thick, I highly recommend it!

Speaking of the marinade, I brushed it on a single chicken breast:

And then I cooked it with a tiny bit of vegetable oil on the stovetop. Don’t bother scooting it around in the pan too much – you want to mimic grilling it (or better yet, actually grill it).

While the chicken cooked, I cut up the bell pepper:

I also cut all the snap peas in half. Took just a few minutes to prep all the veggies, since I bought the rest ready to go!

After a few minutes on each side, the chicken is done:

Check out those pretty pseudo-char marks! The sugar in the marinade caramelizes really nicely if you just leave it still to cook. Closest you can get to the grilled taste without firing up the grill!

Once cooked, I cut the chicken into super-thin slivers. I don’t really like having to wield a knife to eat a salad, so I wanted the chicken thin enough to eat without cutting it.

Ok, it’s already time to assemble! I know! Yay for easy salads!

Into my big serving bowl, I put lettuce, matchstick carrots, and bean sprouts...

Then I layered on the peas, bell peppers, and mandarin oranges (basically straight from the can, though I did make sure to drain away the super-sweet liquid).

I tossed it all with the vinaigrette and – piece de resistance – topped it all with the delicious teriyaki chicken, as well as some sesame seeds.

Hello, gorgeous.

But still, I know what you’re thinking: “did she seriously tell me how to make a salad by putting store-bought things together in a bowl?” Well, yes. It wouldn’t be a ridiculously easy dinner idea if I had you whipping up a marinade with ten different ingredients. And anyway, a good salad is all about knowing what to grab in the produce section and making it all work together, and this salad definitely fit that bill!

So in these crazy warm, super busy summer days, let’s all add easy salad to our repertoire (or perhaps re-visit others, including southwest chicken salad and a reset button salad). Easy to put together, delicious to eat. Enjoy!

P.S. Oslo recaps coming soon, promise! Just have to sort through eleventy gajillion photos...