Quick Southeast Asian Grilled Chicken Salad

I recently received a coupon to try Tyson's Grilled and Ready chicken from the Foodbuzz Tastemaker's program. I had seen these pre-cooked chicken products before in the store and had been curious about trying them, and here was my opportunity. As a busy grad student, I can see the benefits of having pre-cooked chicken strips in my freezer. I often cook sheet trays of chicken breast to have on hand, but even that can be time-consuming on a busy week. With these, I can pull out as much as I need and defrost it overnight to be used in meals the next day.

I had in mind that these pre-grilled pieces of chicken might be too salty because they are pre-packaged and/or they would taste like rubbery fast-food grilled chicken, but neither of these scenarios were the case. Though they did not completely have the texture of a freshly cooked chicken breast that I'd sliced myself, the flavor was just as good as a homemade grilled chicken breast that was simply seasoned with salt and pepper. I like how the grill marks were visible too. Would I buy this product again? Based on convenience and taste, definitely yes.

To go with the theme of the need for a quick protein, I used these chicken pieces to make a fast salad. This salad comes together quickly thanks to other convenience items such as bagged lettuce and pre-shredded cabbage and carrots (though you don't have to use those to make this recipe work, of course). I actually used lettuce given to me from an experimental lettuce plot at the location where I work (when science and food mesh, it's a beautiful thing at times). I did use pre-shredded carrots and I often have pre-shredded cabbage to add bulk and color to salads, but this time I shredded the cabbage on my own (easy work). I did not opt for a bottled dressing because I had in mind a particular recipe I wanted to throw together. It's a semi-resurrection from my Hot Ginger-Lime Beef Salad, which I love (and NEED to make again soon). I know a homemade dressing is the opposite of convenience but I can't help but feel it might be a little bit healthier and you can control the quality of ingredients yourself. What I love about this recipe is that, even on a crazy busy night, you can put together a mostly homemade meal that looks so attractive. This is a perfect recipe to keep in mind as we head into the summer months and the idea of heating up the stove to cook chicken seems more than you can stand.

Quick Southeast Asian Grilled Chicken Salad
Printable Recipe

For the salad:
4 cups mixed greens
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup grated purple cabbage
1/4 of a large red bell pepper, julienned
1/4 of a large yellow bell pepper, julienned
1/2 cup julienned cucumber
8 oz cold cooked boneless, skinless chicken breast strips, such as those from Tyson Grilled and Ready
2 tbsp chopped dry-roasted peanuts

For the dressing:
2 tbsp natural crunchy peanut butter
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce
2 tsp brown sugar

1. Arrange all the salad ingredients attractively on a plate, using the peanuts as the last addition to decorate.
2. Add the peanut butter to a small bowl, blend in the garlic, then gradually blend in each liquid until the peanut butter becomes softened and more liquid. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves.
3. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.

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