After a year and a half hiatus, I’m back at it (well, sort of!). This blog is purely a hobby for me, and when I transitioned jobs a year and a half ago, I found that I really didn’t have time to photograph, document and post anymore, especially in the day light (my main challenge to this blog has been being able to photograph all my food in natural light, since I don’t have any other equipment to make night shooting possible). Anyway, I had the urge to share this recipe and thought that there’s no harm in getting back into blogging, although I do want to give a disclaimer that I have no idea how often I’ll be posting. I don’t want my hobby to become a chore – I just want to be able to share good recipes when I can!
There were a few inspirations for this recipe – trying to eat healthier since it’s getting warm out and my winter hibernation is finally ending :-) and trying to eat more vegetables (inspired by this article I was reading today about how much it can cut your risk of death!). I figure it can’t do much harm to eat more fruits and vegetables, so I might as well try! This recipe counts for at least a few servings I think!
I tend to like heartier salads when I’m eating healthy – otherwise I’ll be hungry an hour or two later! That’s why I combined coconut-crusted chicken with a fire-roasted vegetable mix, which was inspired by the one on Panera’s Thai Chicken salad (my favorite!). It’s a nice, charred mixture of diced carrot, bell pepper and edamame, which adds great flavor, texture and body to the salad. The cucumbers add a nice fresh crunch and the almonds are sweet and crunchy as well. You could easily substitute chopped peanuts to make this even more “Thai”.
A few recipe notes – the coconut I used is unsweetened flaked coconut. I found mine from Whole Foods and it worked well as it was very small flakes that adhered easily to the chicken. I suggest checking the health food/organic aisle of your grocery store to find unsweetened coconut. Also, the quantities of cucumber, sliced almonds and lettuce are merely suggestions, as it is truly personal preference.
This dressing is worth making extra of – it’s super flavorful and versatile. Much better than anything you can get in a bottle! For more tips on making homemade vinaigrettes and dressings can be found here.
Coconut-Crusted Chicken Salad with Pan Fire-Roasted Vegetables and Peanut-Honey-Lime Dressing
- 2 medium chicken breasts or breast tenderloins (~1 lb)
- ¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- Vegetable oil
Cut chicken breasts lengthwise into strips (4-5 per breast). Whisk egg in a small bowl with a splash of water. Combine panko, coconut and salt (~1/2 t.) in a separate bowl. Coat chicken in egg, removing excess, then coat thoroughly in breadcrumb mixture. Meanwhile, heat several tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook chicken several minutes per side, until golden brown and chicken is cooked through (165°F).
- 1 T. creamy peanut butter
- 3 T. rice vinegar
- 3 T. lime olive oil (or regular – see notes below)
- 2 t. honey
- 1 t. fresh lime juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a Tupperware or Mason jar and shake vigorously to combine. Alternatively, whisk together in a small bowl. If you do not have lime olive oil, you can substitute regular extra-virgin olive oil and use more lime juice in place of the rice vinegar (lime zest could be added for extra lime flavor).
Pan fire-roasted vegetable mix
- 1 large carrot, diced
- ½ red bell pepper, diced
- ½ to ¾ cup frozen shelled edamame
- 2 T. vegetable oil
- Mediterranean or romaine salad mix (about 4 cups)
- Honey roasted sliced almonds (or chopped peanuts)
- 4-5” English cucumber, sliced
Place diced carrot and frozen edamame in a microwave-safe bowl and add a few tablespoons water. Microwave on high ~2 minutes to thaw edamame and slightly cook carrot. Drain. Heat oil in a small skillet over high heat; add edamame, carrot and pepper and stir fry until lightly cooked and slightly blackened.
Assemble salad with cucumber, charred vegetable mix, chicken, slivered almonds and drizzle with dressing.