This Lazy Day Chinese Chicken Salad is a low stress recipe that makes eating your veggies a ton of fun. Crisp veggies, juicy tangerine slices, tender baked chicken and a homemade sesame dressing makes for an easy and delicious dinner perfect for lazy days.
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Salads have been my go to meal time and time again. I love how I feel when I eat them. In fact, if I go too long without a salad I start feeling sluggish and just plain yucky. Because of my love of salads I have been known to make a meal out of them. In other words, I eat BIG salads. My husband jokes that I eat a trough of salad. Usually when I make salad for our dinner, I am eating out of a serving bowl and he is eating out of a regular sized bowl. You can imagine my surprise when he not only ate a portion bigger than he normally does of this Lazy Day Chinese Chicken Salad but he went back for seconds.
October and November are perfect months for making this salad because mandarins, or cuties as many people know them, come into season. These orange gems are a great way to increase vitamin c levels. You can essentially make this dish anytime of the year using canned mandarins but there is something so special about smelling the burst of citrus as you peel them. In my book, fresh mandarins taste so much better.
The beauty of this Lazy Day Chinese Chicken Salad is that you can use either chicken or leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. If you chose to use chicken, a huge time saving trick is to bake the chicken breasts the day before and refrigerate them over night. You can also use Air Fryer Boneless Chicken Breasts as well! It will make prep time so much faster. Simply delete the chipotle seasoning and smoked paprika in the air fryer chicken breast recipe and and 1 teaspoon of Chinese spice. The salad dressing takes about 7 mins to make and to prep the veggies is another 7 to 8 mins. In about 15 minutes you will have a satisfying, full of flavor meal with a ton of nutrition.
This particular recipe does not use the crispy noodles and because of that, it becomes gluten free and low carb. I have found using whole roasted almonds a great substitute if you absolutely need that crunch. The other element that is different about this recipe is the powdered organic ginger. I love the taste of fresh ginger. To be completely honest, if I had to peal and grate the ginger on a tired or extra busy day, there is a good chance I would skip the salad all together. I have found having powdered ginger on hand makes this salad so much faster and I still love the taste. If you want to pump up the nutritional density even more add spinach, broccoli sprouts, carrots and cilantro.
With this Lazy Day Chinese Chicken Salad there is no need to slave in the kitchen to eat healthy. You will love this salad so much that it will be a repeat time and time again.
- Make-Ahead Prep- Chop and prepare the ingredients ahead of time, so all you need to do is assemble the salad when ready to eat.
- Customize Your Veggies- Feel free to add or substitute vegetables to suit your taste. Julienne carrots, bell peppers, or cucumber can be great additions.
- Maintain Crunchiness- Add the nuts just before serving to keep them crunchy and fresh.
- Enhance Flavors- Marinate the chicken in the dressing for a few hours before baking for a more infused taste.
Variations of the Recipe
- Spicy Kick- For a spicy twist, add a teaspoon of sriracha or chili paste to the dressing.
- Crunchy Addition- Throw in some crispy wonton strips or chow mein noodles for an extra crunch.
- Nutty Flavors- Try substituting the almonds with roasted cashews or peanuts for a different nutty flavor.
- Vinegar Swap- Use rice wine vinegar or champagne vinegar instead of regular vinegar.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use other types of protein instead of chicken?
Yes, you can substitute the chicken with tofu, shrimp, or even grilled beef strips for a different protein option.
How can I make this recipe vegetarian?
To make this recipe vegetarian, simply omit the chicken and enhance the vegetable medley with extra tofu or more veggies like bell peppers and broccoli.
Can I prepare the dressing in advance?
Absolutely! The dressing can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Just give it a good shake or whisk before using.
Can I prep the salad ahead of time?
Yes, you can prep all the salad components ahead of time and store them separately. Don’t dress the salad until ready to eat.
What can I use instead of romaine lettuce?
You can use any variety of lettuce you prefer – green leaf, red leaf, butter lettuce, or a spring mix all work well.
What other vegetables chould I use?
Some great options are shredded carrots, sliced bell peppers, edamame, or shredded broccoli slaw mix.
Lazy Day Chinese Chicken Salad
- 2 lg chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil *or peanut oil
- sprinkling of sea salt and garlic powder to taste
- 1/3 cup peanut oil *or extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp soy sauce *Tamari for gluten free
- 3 med cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp sesame seeds *optional
- 2 med heads of romaine lettuce *or 3 to 4 romain hearts
- 4-6 mandarin oranges cuties
- 1-1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 1-1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas
- 4 green onions *chopped
- 1/2 cup silvered almonds
- For the Chicken– Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts in a baking dish. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt & garlic powder. Bake for 30 mins or until internal temperature of 165 degrees. Let cool before cutting.
- For the Dressing– Measure both oils and pour into large mixing bowl. Whisk in vinegar and soy sauce. Peel and crush garlic, add to vinaigrette. Add ginger and sesame seeds. Whisk thoroughly.
- For the Salad– Dice chicken, add to vinaigrette. Wash all veggies. Finely shred cabbage, cut sugar snap peas in half, tear lettuce, peel and separate mandarins, chop onions and add all veggies to vinaigrette/chicken mixture. Toss well with two large wooden spoons. Add nuts right before eating and toss again.