Monday, January 25, 2010

Warm Chicken & Bacon Cabbage Salad

This main dish salad is quick to make and simply delicious! It came about because I had a leftover rotisserie chicken in the fridge and a head of Napa cabbage. If you've never tried Napa cabbage (also known as Chinese cabbage), please let me introduce you to this crunchy, yet tender, mild, wonderful vegetable! It is different from it's green or red cousin, without their pungent flavor or tough, leathery leaves. It a good source of vitamin C and makes a wonderful substitute for lettuce anytime.

Another time-saving ingredient in this recipe is ready-cooked bacon. It lends this salad it's delicious, smoky flavor without all the fat because it's already been cooked and drained. Simply chop, saute it for a few minutes in a hot pan and it's ready to go! (If you prefer, you may substitute turkey bacon, but it will have to cook a bit longer until crisp.) Another nice thing about this salad is that you can make the crunchy noodle topping and dressing ahead of time, so final preparation can be reduced to 15 minutes or less for when you want a healthy meal FAST!

Warm Chicken & Bacon Cabbage Salad
(Serves 4)

Crunchy Topping Ingredients:
1 package ramen noodles (any flavor)
3 tablespoons slivered almonds

Dressing Ingredients:
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup honey mustard
1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Salad Ingredients:
1 medium head Chinese or Napa Cabbage, quartered and thinly sliced
1 carrot, shredded
3 green onions, sliced (white and green parts separated)
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced
4 slices pre-cooked bacon, chopped
2 cups cooked chicken, cut into small pieces or shredded
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Remove the ramen noodles from the package and discard flavor packet. Break noodle block into several pieces and place in a sealed plastic bag. Using the handle of a knife, gently pound until crushed into small pieces. Spread broken noodles onto a cookie sheet and toss with almonds. Bake for about 12 minutes, stirring once, until golden in color. Place toasted noodles into a small bowl to cool completely. (NOTE: For this salad, you will only need ½ of this mixture, so reserve the remaining portion in an airtight container to top future salads.)

2. While the noodles are toasting in oven, mix together the dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whip with a wire whisk; set aside.

3. Place the sliced cabbage, shredded carrot and green part of onions into a large bowl and toss to combine; set aside.

4. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat (do not add oil to the pan). Place sliced mushrooms into the heated pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until moisture has sweated out of them and evaporated from the pan. As soon as they begin to brown, add the bacon and white part of onion. Saute until bacon has rendered a small amount of fat and has begun to crisp. Add cooked chicken and stir to combine. Cook only until chicken is heated through. Add dressing and stir ingredients together. Continue stirring until dressing is hot and bubbly. Pour mixture over cabbage and toss to combine ingredients. Just before serving, add ½ of the toasted noodle and almond mixture into the warm salad and toss. Top with freshly ground pepper and serve. (If not eating entire salad in one sitting, remove only the amount to be eaten and add 2 tablespoons per serving of the noodle mixture to each portion. Remaining salad can be refrigerated and eaten as a cold slaw within 1-2 days, adding the toasted noodle mixture just before serving.)

Nutritional Information per serving: 290 calories, 27.1 g carbohydrate, 10.6 g total fat, 3.2 g saturated fat, 5.2 g fiber, 20.1 g protein.

Original recipe by Kathy Sheehan, copyright 2010

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