Kristin, author of Modern Potluck, blogger at Eat Better Drink Better, and former editor at Food & Wine, might disown me after she reads the accidental adaptation of her Chinese Chicken Salad from her new book. Forgive me, Kristin? You see, I didn’t set out to make this salad vegetarian, even though two posts back I waxed on about falling out of love with meat. But a vegetarian Chinese Chicken-less Salad is what happened.
After living in three states with heavy winters, you learn to seize all the jacket-less days. You plan one too many trips. Set your email to silent in the evenings and on weekends. Basically, you turn on summer hours—work less, play more. Without doing the math, I said yes to more work and more play. Though, I use the term work very loosely. Playing in the kitchen can hardly be considered as such. Either way, I over-booked myself. Up next—making my brother’s wedding cake that serves 230 people. Gulp.
So when I went to the store to buy the ingredients to make Kristin’s Chinese Chicken Salad and the rotisserie chickens weren’t ready yet, there was no time for going back. More cashews and red cabbage, I said! I came home to make and shoot the recipe. It was crazy good. Salty, sweet, crunchy, sour. I covered the salad, and stuck it in the fridge for later. Come dinner time the next day, we were dinner-less as usual. So I grabbed the salad and added green onions and diced avocados to give it new life. The cashews though! After sitting in the dressing, the texture softened, almost to that of chicken. It felt like the happiest of accidents. So I renamed it Chinese Cashew Salad.
Off to work on my shopping list for those cakes. It all begins tomorrow. 230 people. Pray for me and the grocery stores. There’s no ad-libbing cake ingredients. While I’m away, there’s another quick giveaway!
One person will win a copy of Modern Potluck plus a special delivery from Chicago Cutlery. To enter: Leave a comment below telling me your favorite potluck dish, modern or traditional. Giveaway ends August 9, 2016 at 9 am CST. Open to US readers only.
This salad is an adaptation of Kristin Donnelly’s Chinese Chicken Salad from her book Modern Potluck. I accidentally turned this salad vegetarian after arriving at the store before the rotisserie chickens were ready. And then I accidentally let the cashews sit in the dressing over night and fell in love with the texture. That’s how this adaptation came to be. The soaked cashews are best prepped a day in advance.
1/4 c. lemon juice, fresh
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2 tsp. tahini
1 1/2” piece of ginger
1/2–1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
1/2 c. grapeseed oil
1 1/2 c. roasted cashews, divided
1 large napa cabbage (about 2 1/2 pounds), shredded
1/4 red cabbage, shredded
4 carrots, grated
1 1/2 c. sugar snap or snow peas, thinly sliced on the diagonal
2 green onions, sliced
handful of cilantro, chopped
A day in advance, make the dressing. Combine ingredients in a high-powered blender and blitz until smooth. Set aside.
Soak the cashews. Into a bowl or jar with a lid, add 3/4 cup of cashews. Pour in half of the dressing. Cover, shake, and let sit overnight. Pour in the remaining dressing into a separate, covered jar. Place both in fridge.
On the day of, assemble the salad. Chop, dice, grate, and prep the vegetables. Place into a large serving bowl. Just before serving, add in the soaked cashews plus their dressing, remaining 3/4 cup cashews, and dressing. Toss and serve. Garnish with avocados if you wish.
If using a rotisserie chicken, shred a 3-pound bird and add it into the salad. Skip the soaking of cashews and use only 3/4 cup.
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Modern Potluck is a compilation of recipes you’d hope would dress the table at a friends house. The recipes have been updated from your mom’s recipes. Like this Chinese Chicken Salad. Kristin skipped the traditional canned mandarine oranges and fried wontons and added in the cabbage in place of lettuce. In each recipe, she guides the preparation to be made ahead of time and served warm when necessary. For all those reasons, these recipes are fit for the everyday cooking too. So many dog-eared pages.