Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends.
For a tasty lunch or dinner loaded with healthy greens, bright flavors and contrasting textures, try this Asian-style chicken salad. It's perfect to take on the go, whether that means heading to the park with little ones in tow or grabbing a quick but satisfying desk lunch.
Fresh Napa cabbage integrated with coleslaw mix is your crisp base, to which you add shredded chicken—I pulled mine from a nicely spiced rotisserie chicken—and green onions and cilantro for herbal notes. For sweetness and crunch, top the greens with mandarin oranges, slivered almonds and toasted ramen noodles.
The dressing ties everything together. I grew up with my mom's mix of peanut oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar, but on a recent evening I opted for red wine vinaigrette, which was more readily available. If you make a large salad (which this recipe does) and plan to have leftovers, add the dressing, noodles and almonds to the individual servings rather than mixing them all together in the bowl; this avoids sogginess and an overpowering dressing the following day.
If you are enjoying this salad outside in summer weather, a rosé won’t be far from mind. But consider the grassy bite from the green onions and cilantro and think about your white wine options. (Of the wines I tried, a rosé did do well, showing plump raspberry and cherry notes, but its fruit-forward character didn't enhance the salad in any way.)
I wanted a wine with enough acidity to balance the dressing, and a white blend from Sicily—which brought together Italian varieties Greciano and Fiano with Chardonnay and Viognier—did just that. The wine showed stone fruit notes and a hint of white flowers on the nose, with soft lemon flavors and an almond accent too. The acidity supported the salad’s many textures and flavors, accentuating them all slightly. A pairing like that is very satisfying—as is the thought of having leftovers in the fridge.
Pair with a crisp white blend such as Planeta Sicilia White La Segreta 2016 (85 points, $14).
Prep time: 10 minutes
Active cooking time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Approximate food costs: $30
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. In a bowl, break apart the ramen noodles by hand, sprinkle with a dash of olive oil and stir to distribute evenly. Spread the noodles evenly on a parchment paper–lined baking pan and toast for 15 minutes, checking on them often after the first 10 minutes. The noodles should be turning gold in color; take them out before they turn brown. Place the noodles back in the bowl and add the slivered almonds to the baking pan. Sprinkle with another dash of olive oil and bake for 5 minutes, checking to be sure that the nuts don't turn brown.
2. Chop the greens while the noodles and almonds are toasting. Mix the Napa cabbage and coleslaw in a large bowl, adding the onions, cilantro and shredded chicken. Toss gently.
3. Add the toasted noodles, almonds and red wine vinaigrette, tossing gently to integrate all the ingredients. (Do this step on the individual serving plates if you are saving some salad for leftovers; this keeps everything crisp and fresh for the next day.) Garnish each plate with 5 to 7 small mandarin orange slices. Serves 4 to 6.