Summer is HERE!!!!!! And what says summer quite like this colorful Asian Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing?
OK, according to the calendar, it’s not officially summer yet; it’s still 11 days away – but the weather doesn’t know that. Here in the Detroit area, the day I’m typing this is the epitome of a gorgeous summer day as far as I’m concerned. The sky is a bright blue, the grass, a vibrant lush green, and I got sunburned last weekend sitting outside on a rooftop patio eating pizza and drinking blueberry beer and then attending a baseball game – that equals summer to me. And I’m THRILLED. May through October is definitely my favorite chunk of the year hands-down, and I’m so happy to be right in the thick of it wearing sandals and cheerfully sweating my butt off.
I hope if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere like me that you’re experiencing beautiful summery weather and shenanigans that make you hungry – hungry for this Asian Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing! And if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and gearing up for winter with its chilliness and waning daylight hours, well, if you’re anything like me and not a fan of that time of year, you could use this Asian Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing for the cheer of its vibrant colors alone. You can pretend you’re at a beach party eating it while you’re really holed up in your house hiding from the frigid temps in your flannel jammies – and then whip out this recipe the next time it IS summer and you ARE invited to a beach barbecue. That’s probably what I’ll be doing the next time it’s winter for me.
But for now, it’s summer where I live, so I’m extolling the virtues of this Asian Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing as a warm-weather salad. This recipe is perfect for summer, in my opinion, because it’s got the inherent lightness of a salad (YAY, plant-packed power!), but it’s still way hearty, too. So if you are doing a little enjoying-of-adult-beverages-on-a-patio, you can whip this Asian Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing out and get some sustenance into everyone before they wither away in the heat in a stupor of empty-bellied tipsiness.
And BONUS: it’s a perfect salad to prepare in advance because it will keep well in the fridge, even if you mix the dressing in ahead of time (raw cabbage is an all-star like that; it’s doesn’t get wilty!). Plus, this recipe yields a large amount: about eight servings – awesome for when you’re entertaining a crowd. And even if you’re not entertaining a crowd, this Asian Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing is the kind of thing you won’t mind eating leftovers of for days and days (believe me, I know – between the two drafts of it that I’ve made, I’ve been eating this salad for over a week and am STILL not tired of it. In fact, I’m getting ready to eat another bowl of it post-posting this. YUMMM).
What makes this Asian Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing so specifically delicious? Well, for one, the dressing is AMAZING. It’s creamy and spicy and peanut-butter-y. Given that I’m pretty much obsessed with peanut butter and eat it straight-up out of the can on the daily, it’s not a surprise that I was yet again looking for an excuse to sneak it into a recipe. And this Spicy Peanut Dressing was a REAL good manifestation of that. If you’re not into spicy, you can easily make the dressing un-spicy by omitting the red pepper flakes.
The blend of various fresh, vibrant vegetables in this Asian Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing also does it for me. We’ve got hearty chopped green AND purple cabbage here, sweet shredded carrot and dried cranberries, crunchy yellow bell pepper and cucumber, spicy jalapeños, bold green onion, savory pulled chicken, and my FAVORITE favorite ingredient, deliciously-addictive roasted cashews (I’m that person standing at the salad bowl trying very hard not to pick out and eat every cashew). If you’re interested in fresh-roasting your cashews for this recipe rather than buying them already roasted – totally worth the approximately 15 minutes it will take to do so – check out my recent Creamy Chocolate Cashew Butter recipe post, which includes instructions around this.
Speaking of recipe prep, if you are looking to roast your own chicken to provide the pulled chicken for this recipe (and have extra!), my Classic Roasted Chicken recipe post provides an easy how-to on this matter.
OK, on to the recipe and colorful, flavorful, belly-filling, energy-sustaining goodness!
Combine all salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
Add dressing ingredients to a mason jar or other container with a secure lid and shake well.
Pour dressing over the salad and toss to coat evenly. And you're done! You have a vibrant, nutrient-rich salad to enjoy.