Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Asian Broccoli Chicken Salad

I asked Tristan what he would like for dinner after the first day of the monstrous BAR exam. Without a moment's hesitation he answered, "broccoli and chicken salad with an Asian dressing." He was a bit cloudy on the details but was clearly craving some clean-tasting brain food.
What began as a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants experiment lead to fortuitous results: crunchy, bright green broccoli, roasted chicken, red peppers, cilantro, noodles and toasted sesame seeds tossed in a light soy sauce dressing. Cool, nutritious and very satisfying.

Note: since it has been uncommonly hot, I took a short-cut and picked up a rotisserie chicken on the way home from work, which saved a bunch of time and energy. But any type of leftover chicken can be used here, or just poach a few thighs.

Asian Broccoli and Chicken Salad
Shrimp may be substituted for the chicken.

1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets (for aesthetics, cut florets to have long, thin stems)

1/2 package (8 oz) brown rice spaghetti or soba noodles
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 red pepper, julienned
2 cups cubed or shredded cooked chicken
Big handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced
2T soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
1 T sesame oil
1 T chili oil
1 T honey

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add broccoli florets and cook until bright green and crisp tender, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice water to halt the cooking process. Bring water back up to a boil. Add noodles and cook according to package directions or until just al dente. Drain and set aside.

In a small skillet over medium heat, dry toast the sesame seeds, stirring constantly, until lightly golden and nutty smelling, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small dish/paper towel and let cool.

In a large salad bowl, mix all dressing ingredients with a whisk. Add chilled broccoli, noodles, red pepper, chicken and cilantro. Toss well to incorporate. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and toss again.

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