lunchbox life: thai peanut chicken salad in mason jars

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Many of you may have seen this ingenious idea on Pinterest. I wish I could take credit for the delivery of this salad, but many pinners before me deserve that credit. I figured that it was about time for me to try out this upside-down salad trick, so I stuck to a familiar favorite: my thai peanut dressing. I’ve used this dressing for cold salads and warm noodles, and its umami appeal can make anything taste scrumptious. By using the cabbage, radishes, and celery from our CSA box and adding the bell pepper, cilantro, and green onion, I knew that this could be a visually appealing salad in a jar. When I cook recipes with an Asian flair, I prefer to use chicken thighs in lieu of breasts because of its fuller flavor and because many Asian restaurants use the thigh instead of the breast in their dishes.

The preparation of the chicken is easy and–I kid you not–makes it taste like breaded fried chicken. Even though you’ll only use 2 Tbsp. butter for five servings, the butter, salt, and pepper create a crust on the outside of the skinless chicken that is crispy and delicious. I’d make this chicken for dinner to add protein to any plate.

Thai Peanut Chicken Salad in Mason Jars

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs

2 Tbsp. butter

salt and pepper

1/2 head of cabbage, sliced

1.5 cups shelled edamame

about 1 cup finely chopped celery

about 1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper

about 1 cup thinly sliced radishes

about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

about 1/3 cup chopped green onions

For the dressing:

2 Tbsp. crunchy peanut butter

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. fish sauce

2 tsp. Sriracha

1 tsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. sesame oil

juice of 1 lime

Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a small mason jar. Place the lid on tightly and shake. If needed, take the lid off and microwave for about 15 seconds to break up the peanut butter. Put the lid back on, shake again, and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp. butter over medium high heat in a large frying pan. Unpeel the chicken thighs and place them smooth-side down on a plate. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper, then put half of them seasoned-side down in the melted butter. Salt and pepper the smooth sides while the chicken is in the pan and let it cook on each side for about 6-8 minutes. When this batch is done, place them on a cutting board, melt the other Tbsp. butter, and repeat the process. Let all of the chicken cool on the cutting board before slicing.

While the chicken is cooking, chop the veggies.

To assemble, take 5 quart-size jars and pour 2 Tbsp. peanut dressing in the bottom of each jar. Next, evenly divide the edamame between the jars, then the bell pepper, then the radishes, then the cilantro, then the green onions. Slice the chicken lengthwise, then evenly divide it between the jars. Last, fill the remaining space with the sliced cabbage. Place the lids on all of the jars tightly and refrigerate.

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