This salad is inspired by my recent craze with Kung Pao Chicken, a popular Chinese dish which often leaves me with an energy slump. I can barely open my eyes after lunch, what with the copious amounts of white rice I eat along with the dish. I love the taste of juicy chicken paired with the nutty crunch of fried peanuts and thought of creating a healthier, less food coma inducing option.
Firstly, I replaced the peanuts with walnuts as the latter contains more heart-healthy fats. Then comes the chicken, which is a no-brainer when paired with salads. There are many variations of chicken salads sold in cafes, salad bars and restaurants these days but many have left me disappointed by how dry and tough the meat is. I consulted a few of my friends who cook chicken (usually chicken breast) as part of their regular meal-preps and many have resigned to the fact that chicken breast with its lower fat content inevitably result in drier and tougher meat. They opt instead to substitute it with a tastier dressing or use chicken thighs instead.
I experimented with different methods of cooking – steaming, baking, grilling but they turn out to be either semi-raw chicken or really dry and tough ones that resembled that of desiccated coconut. But after trawling the youtube sphere, I have found an easy fool-proof way of cooking much juicer chicken (‘does a little dance’). It’s a little unorthodox, but who cares? It works! I urge you to try it!
Recipe:Walnut Chicken on Crisp Baby Spinach
For the salad and toppings:
- 200 grams chicken breast, cut into 3 parts
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 200 grams baby spinach leaves
- 1/2 large tomato, sliced into wedges
- 1/4 orange/yellow capsicum, sliced
- 1/4 Red Onion, sliced
- 1/3 cup steamed broccoli
- 1 tablespoon raw walnuts, crumbled
For the dressing:
- 1 tablespoon store-bought Japanese onion/ sesame sauce
- Cracked black pepper
- Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan on high heat
- Sear chicken pieces for 30 seconds on each side
- Cover pan with lid and lower heat to medium-low for 8 minutes
- Switch off the heat but leave the cover on for another 8 minutes (The chicken will continue to cook with the residual heat)
- Meanwhile, arrange the rest of the salad ingredients on a large plate
- Transfer chicken to plate. Drizzle with salad dressing and cracked black pepper
Thank you so much for reading!
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