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Sesame Mandarin Salad

Open Sesame!

This salad is inspired by the delicious concoction that my buddy Maureen used to whip up for all of us working at my old job back in the day.  Perfectly tangy, crunchy, and sweet – it was probably the most requested item at our potlucks and parties.  Remind me to beg her for her recipe sometime.

Right around the time I left for NYC, my aunt gave me a copy of the Junior League of Yakima Cookbook, and lo and behold, they had a version of Maureen’s salad.  Their version had a few unusual additions, to include parsley, candied almonds and tabasco.  They also used a lettuce blend as opposed to the traditional iceberg.

Fast forward a bit, and out of sheer necessity and chronic cravings for interesting salad options, I came up with the following “hacked” version of the two recipes.  I ditched the candied almonds, added some splenda, and used a mix of extra crisp lettuces – frisee became the ace in the hole, adding both crunch and texture.  Topping off the whole shebang is a lovely toss of black and white sesame seeds.  The bright mix manages to make me grin just at the sight of it.  A nourishing enough meal on its own, this salad is also a great accompaniment to slices of Crispy Ginger Chicken.

Sesame Mandarin Salad

6 c. of mixed greens (iceberg, romaine, frisee, green leaf, red leaf)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 c. of celery, diced
1 15oz. can of mandarin orange segments, drained
1/3 c. of sliced almonds

1/4 c. of vegetable oil
4 tbs. of rice wine vinegar
2 packets of splenda (or 4 tsp. of sugar)
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/8 tsp. of white pepper
1 tsp of white sesame seeds
1 tsp of black sesame seeds

In a large salad bowl, toss the greens, scallions, celery, almonds and oranges.  Set aside.  Mix together in a small bowl the olive oil, rice wine vinegar, splenda, salt and white pepper.  Pour the dressing on the sides of the salad bowl (a Thomas Keller trick to perfectly saturate each green with an even amount of dressing) and toss.  Top the salad with the sesame seeds.  Serve to deserving lovelies.

Crispy Ginger Chicken

Kicking Boring Chicken to the Curb

When you are looking for something crispy and delicious, but aren’t keen on a ton of calories or frying action over hot oil, these baked chicken breasts are perfect.  I usually serve them atop some Sesame Mandarin Salad for added crunch, but you can also top them with a bit of Sweet Thai Chili Sauce for a little kick.  The technique of dredging chicken in seasoned flour, spraying with cooking spray and then baking is a nice trick anytime you want chicken cutlets without the frying.  I use this technique for a spin-off of Chicken Cordon Bleu – I’ll try to post that recipe soon as it looks gorgeous without any work at all.  For that matter, with crispy slices of this chicken over a bright green and gold salad, you’ll have the same sexy results with the same amount of work (read: none).  Let’s dredge!

Crispy Ginger Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
1 egg
1 tbs. of soy
2 tsp. of salt
1/3 c. of flour
1 tsp. of garlic powder
1 tsp of ground ginger
1/2 tsp. of white pepper
cooking spray (the olive oil version is nice)

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Set out two shallow bowls and a cookie sheet lined with foil and lightly coated with cooking spray.  In the first bowl, beat the egg and soy together.  In the second bowl, blend the flour, garlic powder, ginger, and white pepper.  Dredge the chicken breast in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture and finally the flour again.  Place on the baking sheet, and then repeat with the second chicken breast.  Gently spray the tops of the chicken breasts so as not to blow all the flour off the chicken.  Bake until the chicken is cooked all the way through and when sliced, the juices run clear, about 20 minutes.  Let rest for 2-3 minutes and then slice thinly.