Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad

Introduction:

Elevate your salad game with a burst of vibrant flavors and textures in every bite of Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad. This delightful salad combines tender chicken breast, crunchy vegetables, sweet dried cranberries, and a zesty Asian-inspired dressing, creating a harmonious balance of savory, sweet, and tangy flavors. Whether served as a refreshing lunch option, a light dinner, or a crowd-pleasing potluck dish, Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad is sure to impress with its delicious combination of ingredients. In this article, we’ll explore how to prepare this mouthwatering salad and share tips for serving and enjoying it to the fullest.

Ingredients:

  •  2 small bags of coleslaw mix, about 12 cups
  •  4 cups rotisserie chicken, finely chopped
  •  1  cups toasted sliced almonds, or cashews
  •  1  cup dried cranberries, I used Orange Cranberries from Trader Joes
  •   cup red onion, finely diced
  •  1 cup sesame sticks, found in the bulk aisle at grocery store  optional
  •  1  cups chopped cilantro
  •  1-2 small cans mandarin oranges, drained
  •   cup black sesame seeds, or regular sesame seeds
  • 㮝 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •   cup balsamic vinegar, regular or you can use white
  •  4 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  •  3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  •  4 Tbsp. honey or brown sugar
  •  4 Tbsp. minced ginger
  •  2 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Instructions:

  1. Layer the salad: Add the cabbage in a large bowl with chicken, almonds or cashews, or both, cranberries, red onion, sesame seeds, sesame sticks optional, and fresh cilantro. Add the mandarin oranges optional.
  2. Make the dressing: Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, honey, ginger, and sesame oil in a blender. Add 3 tablespoons of water. Blend until smooth.
  3. Right before serving: Lightly pour the dressing over the salad mixture, according to how moist you like the salad. Gently toss and serve. You may have a little dressing left over.

Serving Tips:

  1. Chilled Presentation: Serve Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad chilled for maximum freshness and flavor. This salad is best enjoyed cold, making it a refreshing option for lunch, picnics, or potlucks on warm days.
  2. Bed of Greens: For an elegant presentation, serve the Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad on a bed of crisp salad greens such as mixed greens, spinach, or romaine lettuce. The vibrant colors of the greens provide a beautiful contrast to the colorful ingredients of the salad.
  3. Garnish: Garnish the salad with additional toppings such as toasted sliced almonds, chopped green onions, sesame seeds, or crispy chow mein noodles for added texture and visual appeal. These toppings not only enhance the flavor but also add a delightful crunch to each bite.
  4. Side Pairings: Pair the Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad with complementary side dishes such as steamed rice, crunchy Asian slaw, or vegetable spring rolls for a complete meal. These side dishes complement the flavors of the salad and add variety to the dining experience.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigeration: Store any leftover Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Properly stored, the salad will remain fresh for up to 2-3 days. However, be aware that the salad may become slightly soggy over time due to the dressing.
  2. Separate Dressing: If you anticipate having leftovers, consider keeping the salad dressing separate and adding it to individual servings just before eating. This helps to prevent the salad from becoming overly dressed and maintains its crisp texture.
  3. Meal Prep: Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad is perfect for meal prep. Prepare a batch of salad ingredients ahead of time and store them in separate containers. Assemble individual servings by combining the ingredients and dressing just before eating for a quick and convenient meal option.
  4. Layering Technique: When storing the salad in a container, use a layering technique to keep the ingredients fresh. Start with the sturdier ingredients at the bottom, such as the chicken and vegetables, and layer more delicate ingredients like greens and cranberries on top to prevent them from becoming crushed or wilted.
  5. Freezing: While it’s not recommended to freeze prepared Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad due to the texture changes that may occur, you can freeze cooked chicken separately for future use. Store cooked chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 2-3 months. Thaw the chicken in the refrigerator before using it in salads.

FAQs:

  1. Can I use different protein options besides chicken in this salad?
    • Absolutely! While chicken is a popular choice, you can customize this salad by using alternative proteins such as tofu, shrimp, or thinly sliced beef. Adjust the cooking method and seasoning accordingly to suit your preference.
  2. What kind of dressing pairs well with Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad?
    • A light and tangy dressing works best with this salad. Popular options include sesame ginger dressing, soy ginger vinaigrette, or a simple combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and honey. Feel free to experiment with different dressings to find your favorite flavor profile.
  3. Can I make this salad ahead of time for meal prep?
    • Yes, Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad is great for meal prep. You can prepare the ingredients in advance and assemble the salad just before serving to maintain its freshness. Keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to eat to prevent the salad from becoming soggy.
  4. Are there any alternatives to cranberries in this salad?
    • If you’re not a fan of cranberries, you can substitute them with other dried fruits such as raisins, chopped apricots, or dried cherries. Alternatively, you can omit the dried fruit altogether or use fresh fruit such as diced mango or mandarin oranges for a refreshing twist.
  5. Is this salad suitable for vegetarian or vegan diets?
    • Yes, you can easily adapt this salad to suit vegetarian or vegan diets. Simply omit the chicken or replace it with plant-based protein options such as tofu or tempeh. Use a vegan-friendly dressing and ensure that all ingredients, including toppings and garnishes, are free from animal products.

Conclusion:

With its tantalizing blend of flavors and textures, Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad is a delightful dish that’s perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing lunch option, a light dinner, or a crowd-pleasing potluck dish, this salad is sure to impress with its vibrant colors and bold flavors. Give this recipe a try and elevate your salad game with a deliciously tangy twist!