Mixing in the Warmth

When there's a chill setting in and you want to battle it, you might be like me and naturally turn to a bowl of soup or hearty stew. But now, while it's still fairly simple to get fresh vegetables, consider turning to salad. No, not just any salad. A salad packed with lots of beautiful vegetables, a complex dressing that's so amazing I would sit and eat it with a spoon if given a chance, and spicy-sweet chicken that will warm you through and through:

Now, you can make this slaw and chicken separately, but trust me when I say they were made to be enjoyed together. And it's a nutritional powerhouse of a dish that will have your mouth singing and your tastebuds swooning. Or maybe that's just me … but I don't think so. It's hard not to enjoy such a great combination of crunchy vegetables. It's a rainbow on your plate and a symphony on your tongue. How's that for imagery!

Now, because not everyone has access to the same kinds of vegetables, feel free to mix up the offerings suggested below. However, do yourself a favor and make sure you get a brightly colored, varied mix of crunchy vegetables in there. You'll thank me for it. Also, I'm entirely serious about being willing to just eat the dressing with a spoon. When I'd served all the slaw and there was a little of it left on the bottom of the serving bowl, that's exactly what I did. Except there was no spoon. Now, there's a photo I won't be posting here! Happy eating.

Honey-Sriracha Chicken with Spicy Veggie Slaw

For the slaw:
  • 4 c. thinly sliced Napa cabbage
  • 1 c. shredded carrots
  • 1 c. chopped Chinese kale (or broccoli or spinach or another variety of kale)
  • 1/2 small red onion, cleaned and sliced into thin wedges
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 1/4 c. hoisin
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T. tahini
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 T. crushed red pepper
  • 2 T. black sesame seeds
For the chicken:
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1-2 T. sriracha
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

To make the slaw, toss all of the veggies together in a large bowl. Combine the remaining slaw ingredients (hoisin through sesame seeds) in a resealable jar and shake vigorously to combine. Pour the dressing over the veggies and toss well to coat. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Using your fingers, work the honey, sriracha, garlic powder, and smoked paprika into the boneless chicken thighs. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (or preheat a countertop grill, if you have one), add only enough cooking fat as needed, and cook the chicken until cooked through (about 8 minutes, turning once). Remove to a cutting board and slice into thin strips.

To assemble, spoon a bed of the veggie slaw onto a serving plate. Arrange the slices of chicken over the slaw and, if desired, sprinkle more of the black sesame seeds over the top. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes