Salad Days?

If you think salad days are meant for the hottest days of summer, I have another suggestion. Sure, it's nice to keep the kitchen cool on days like that, but you could always fire up the grill or make a sandwich, right? Salad days make a lot of sense now because we're at the end of winter and we're all missing fresh fruits and vegetables. They make a lot of sense because, before too long, we're going to be wanting to shed clothing and even find our swimsuits and eating healthier earlier means less sighing and crying when that time rolls around. They make a lot of sense because March is a busy month when everyone has a lot going on and not a lot of time to fuss with big meals. They make a lot of sense because eating the rainbow not only seems healthy, it seems downright festive in a month like March. So let me offer my own spicy-sweet rainbow of a meal:

Packed with great Thai flavors and everything from chicken and avocado to pineapple and broccoli, this salad gives you a fork and lets you create each bite of your meal from a beautiful array of fresh produce and tender chicken that's been drizzled with a dressing that's both simple and simply addictive!

Since this is a salad, you can always pick and choose your ingredients. Have some bok choy on hand? Use it! Don't like peppers? Skip 'em! You could even swap out the chicken for pork, beef, or tofu … or skip that entirely, though it might no longer be a main dish salad at that point. I do really love the combination of ingredients in the salad as indicated in the recipe. They offer a blend of sweet items, like lightly-cooked pineapple and crispy sweet peppers, along with powerhouses like broccoli and avocado. Even the chicken is lightly-coated to give you a lot of flavor without a lot of calories. It's my kind of meal.

This salad really is a meal on its own. I simply added a glass of iced tea and called it dinner. But hey, you could also give a nod to the warmer weather on its way and get yourself a glass of lemonade too!

Spicy-Sweet Thai Chicken Salads

  • 1 chicken breast, cut in half and pounded 1/2-inch thin
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 c. Thai chili sauce, divided
  • 1/4 c. honey, divided
  • 3 large slices fresh pineapple
  • 2 c. coarsely-shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1/3 c. sliced cucumber
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced into strips
  • 1/2 c. lightly-steamed broccoli flowerettes
  • 1/2 c. thinly-sliced sweet red pepper
  • 2 T. sliced green onions
  • 1 tsp. black sesame seeds
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. spicy mustard (I used Koops Arizona Heat)

Trim the chicken of visible fat and slice in half. Gently pound until the pieces are about 1/2-inch thick.

Heat the canola oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken on all sides until cooked through and golden on the outside, about 10 minutes. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, combine half the Thai chili sauce and half the honey and drizzle the mixture over the chicken, flipping it to fully coat each piece. When the chicken is done, remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for a few minutes.

While the pan is still hot, add the slices of fresh pineapple to it and cook briefly to coat with the pan sauce and to lightly brown the edges of the pineapple. Remove to the cutting board. Slice the pineapple and chicken into pieces for the salads.

Divide the lettuce, cucumber, avocado, broccoli, red pepper, pineapple, and chicken evenly among two large salad bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with half of the green onions and sesame seeds. I like to arrange the items in sections to allow the diner to essentially assemble each bite on their forks, but you could also toss the items together if you'd prefer.

Combine the other half of the Thai chili sauce, honey, and the olive oil and spicy mustard in a small, resealable jar. Shake vigorously to combine and drizzle generously over the salads before serving.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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