Thursday, April 26, 2012
A Salad for Sophia Rose
From childhood and on through my twenties, my brother and I had first a conflict-filled and then a remote and distant relationship. Perhaps because we have incredibly different personalities, but I'm sure compounded by the reality that we haven't lived in the same state for the last twelve years. But over the past two years we have had some great times, talks and adventures that have chipped away at years of neglect. Spending this time with him as a new father felt like a milestone in that progression. He is so tender and generous, involved in every aspect of my nieces young life without intimidation. I know she'll have the very best he can possibly give her. He'll have spent hours and hours researching exactly what that is! If I'm ever blessed with a child, I will certainly have him on speed dial as to the safest car seat, the strongest diaper, and so on. I'm sure he'll have recipes for baby food to share (he also loves to cook), and he's already taught me an amazing way to sooth, involving a swaddle, side jiggle, shushing sound that worked like baby whisperer magic. I feel closer to and more proud of him than I ever have and I look forward to not only getting to know my new niece, but building on that relationship with my brother. I want to understand how to love him better than I ever thought I could, and our conversations on this trip will help me to do that. The older I get, the more I find joy in knowing my brothers as adults and seeing the seasons of their life and how they mature through them. What an enormous blessing!
In between talks, baby jiggling and watching family home movies, my Mom and I did a lot of cooking for the new parents. We wanted to fill them with health and home-cooked love while we were there. I've been wanting to make a grown up version of the "Chinese Chicken Salad" that we grew up eating often. It was such a childhood favorite that I made it the focus of my very first cooking demonstration, a 4H state fair show in 4th grade! So, one evening of our visit, I assembled this salad and we carried it down to the pool cabana at their home, enjoying the cool relief of the evening hours on a day that hit a 104 degree high! Though far from its original recipe, the nostalgic flavors are there. This salad is a truly delicious meal that will leave you feeling satisfied, but clean and healthy too.
ASIAN CHICKEN SALAD WITH SESAME GINGER VINAIGRETTE
Serves 4 as a main course
I highly recommend you serve this salad with this Coconut Cilantro Rice. Honestly, they go perfectly together!
6 cups baby spinach or 1 large head butter lettuce, chopped
1 head napa cabbage, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thinly or julienned
4-5 scallions, chopped
3 cups snow peas, chopped
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 2 large breasts, seasoned, grilled and chopped
1 mango, sliced thinly
2 ripe avocados, thinly sliced
1 cup chow mein noodles or strips of fried wonton wrapper (I skipped this to keep it clean)
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 inch section peeled fresh ginger, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2-3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
In a blender, process together dressing ingredients through olive oil until smooth. Pour into a bowl and stir in toasted sesame seeds.
Toss salad ingredients together through cilantro. Top salad with sliced mango, avocado, chicken (forgive the picture, I added the chicken after) and toasted almonds in a decorative fashion and drizzle top with all the dressing.