Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sizzling Summer Salads

Thai-Style Noodle Salad with Grilled Chicken and Spicy Peanut Dressing
Be careful what you wish for! We've been lamenting summer's late start this year only to be hit with some blistering heat in late July and early August. No matter . . . it just means sandals, sunscreen, and definitely lighter fare on the dinner menu. On my run the other day, I had a craving for some delicious Thai-food and came up with this idea for a veggie-heavy salad with cold udon noodles and a spicy Thai-style peanut sauce. Topped off with lime-marinated grilled chicken breast, this quick dinner for two makes for a perfect meal on a hot summer night.

- 1 1/2 lb chicken breast, sliced through the center into two thin pieces and then sliced lengthwise to make four pieces
- 2 heads baby bok choy, stems and leaves, rinsed and cut into 2" pieces
- 3 green onions, trimmed and chopped
- 1 large carrot, sliced down lengthwise with a vegetable peeler to create long, thin ribbons
- 1/2 cucumber, peeled, and ribboned into long pieces with a vegetable peeler
- 7-8 oz. udon noodles
- 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, divided
- 3 grated garlic cloves, divided
- 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. rice vinegar, divided
- 2 Tbsp. Sriracha hot sauce, divided
- 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. fish sauce, divided
- 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
- juice from one lime
- 1 tsp. lime zest
- salt and pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, divided
- 2 Tbsp. chopped peanuts
- 2 Tbsp. grape seed oil
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

In a small bowl, whisk together 1 garlic clove, 2 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro, 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, 2 tsp. rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp. Sriracha, 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, lime juice, 1 Tbsp. fish sauce, and lime zest. Set aside. Season chicken pieces on both sides with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Place in a shallow dish and cover evenly with prepared marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
After chicken has marinated, begin heating your grill or grill plates to high and prepare the rest of the salad and dressing.
Place chopped and rinsed bok choy, green onions, and carrot and cucumber ribbons in a large bowl and set aside. Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil. When is reaches a rolling boil, cook udon noodles for 3-4 minutes until they soften. While noodles are boiling, fill a large colander with ice cubes. Drain boiled noodles into the ice colander and rinse with cold water with bring the temperature of the noodles down. While waiting for the ice to melt, prepare the dressing. Place peanut butter, 1 Tbsp. Sriracha, 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar 2 Tbsp. grape seed oil, 2 tsp. fish sauce, minced garlic cloves, and 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes into a blender. You can also whip up dressing with an immersion blender or food processor if you have one. Blend ingredients thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. The dressing will be thick.

Spray grill plates with cooking spray and cook marinated chicken pieces for 4-5 minutes per side until grill marks appear. Chicken is cut quite thin, so it will cook quickly. While chicken is cooking toss together cold, rinsed noodles with prepared vegetables and dress with the peanut sauce, reserving about 2 tablespoonfuls. Toss salad thoroughly to combine ingredients. Divide salad among two plates and top each salad with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro and peanuts. Top each salad with two pieces of chicken. Dress warm chicken slices with a dollop of peanut sauce. Yummy and spicy.

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