Weeknight Shorts: Main Dish Slaw

October is a time of the year in which fresh vegetables are still making an appearance in our gardens and at farmers' markets, but the offerings have a decidedly heartier leaning. So embrace that late harvest aspect with a main dish slaw that has a little bit of everything. Some warm, tender chicken to help boost energy and make this feel less like a side dish and more like a meal. Some crunchy vegetables like cabbage, carrots, and peppers to give your mouth something to sing about. Some sweetness from mandarin oranges, cranberries, and honey — because almost everyone has a sweet tooth. Some complexity offered by everything from the combination of almonds and broccoli to the salty, spicy, sweet dressing that takes only a minute to make. October is a lot of things to a lot of people and this slaw embraces that.

As is often the case, there are tweaks that can be made to this recipe. Instead of chicken, you could easily opt for pork, beef, or tofu as your protein source. The cabbage is not really optional, but you can mix up different varieties for flavor and texture interest. No broccoli? Try snap peas or even cauliflower. Feel free to add peas or edamame in place of or in addition to the carrots or bell pepper. No almonds? Try a different kind of nut. Pistachios add a fun flavor element.

Now, my favorite accompaniment to this slaw are a selection of hot egg rolls. There's likely a bit of a chill in the air and some egg rolls with spicy dipping sauce stand in for any usual starchy accompaniment to a main dish salad. You could also opt for a fun hot and sour or egg drop soup — especially if you've got a storm rolling in!

Asian Chicken Slaw

  • 1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 T. cooking fat of your choice (I used bacon fat)
  • 6 c. coarsely shredded or chopped cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, shredded
  • 1 c. broccoli flowerettes (you can lightly steam these if raw broccoli is too tough for you)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/4 c. sliced green onions
  • 1/2 c. sliced almonds
  • 2 T. toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 c. peanut oil

Drain the oranges while you prepare the chicken.

Sauté the chicken in the cooking fat of your choice in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Then the chicken has been browned on both sides, remove to a cutting board and slice carefully into thin strips. Return to the pan and cook until fully done. Set aside.

Combine the cabbage, carrot, broccoli, bell pepper, cranberries, green onions, almonds, sesame seeds, and drained oranges together in a large serving bowl. Set aside.

Place the remaining ingredients (rice wine vinegar through peanut oil) in a resealable bottle and shake vigorously to combine. Pour the dressing over the cabbage mixture, add the chicken strips, and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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