We made this salad last year during a triple digit heat wave. It was the perfect meal to combat heat. It’s a recipe that requires a little planning ahead only because you want to prep foods early in the day before it gets too hot. We made enough for a dinner and a lunch the next day. The less cooking the better when it’s 100 plus degrees outside. The only prep this recipe required was marinating the chicken the night before. I also made the dressing the night before because it just tastes better. You could certainly make this right before plating, as well. In the morning, I cooked the rice and edamame and grilled the chicken and eggplant outside before the heat wave arrived. By the time dinner rolled around, everything was perfectly chilled and ready to plate.
There is no limit to what you can add to this salad. Lots of fresh crunch such as broccoli, carrots, radishes, cabbage, cucumbers, peas, bell peppers, chili peppers and even fruits are all welcome to the party. Choosing ingredients that have lots of color and texture and stand up to a sweet and slightly spicy vinaigrette lend to a successful plating. For the vinaigrette, I like a lot of flavor that include ginger, citrus from both limes and oranges, toasted sesame seeds, a bit of spice and a little earthy flavor from garlic and shallot. Blended with the pickled chilis, oils and rice vinegar — it’s amazing.
Hope you give this one a try!
Makes 4 – 6 entree portions
FOR the CHICKEN
- 4 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 6 chicken thighs)
- 1/4 C sesame oil
- 1/4 C organic tamari (or shoyu)
- 1/4 C fresh organic ginger, grated
- 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 2 T fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp lime zest
- 2 T sriracha
- 3 T organic sugar
In a medium size bowl, add all ingredients and whisk together In a container with a lid, place chicken breasts and completely cover with marinade. Making sure to rub marinade onto all sides. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours. Heat grill to a medium-hot. Remove chicken from marinade and cut into 2-3 inch chunks. This size makes cooking go faster. Grill for about 5 minutes per side. Set aside until cool and cut into bite size pieces. FOR THE EGGPLANT: Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Brush with sesame oil and a tiny bit of salt. Grill flesh side down for about 5 minutes, depending on size of eggplant. You don’t want it to be overcooked and mushy, so check for firmness. Set aside until cool and cut into bite size pieces. Refrigerate both chicken and eggplant until ready to assemble salads.
FOR the VINAIGRETTE
- 1/4 C seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 T fresh organic ginger, grated
- 1 tsp fresh organic turmeric, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (approximately 2 T)
- 1 shallot, rough chopped
- 1 T organic tamari (or shoyu)
- 1 T organic orange zest
- 1 T fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp lime zest
- 1 T sriracha or sambal (optional)
- 3 T organic sugar
- 1 T raw honey
- 1/4 C good sesame oil
- 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 C pickled chili (we used the Dragonfly brand)
- 3 T toasted sesame seeds, plus more for garnishing salads
In a blender, add vinegar, ginger, turmeric, garlic, tamari, orange zest, lime juice and zest, sriracha, sugar and honey. Blend. Check to see all ingredients are smoothly blended and there are no large pieces of garlic or shallot. With the blender running, add in sesame and olive oil. Turn blender off, add pickled chili and sesame seeds. Pour into glass jar and refrigerate until ready to assemble salad.
FOR the SALAD
- 1-1/2 C jasmine rice, cooked according to instructions
- 1 C wild rice (not wild rice blend, cooked according to instructions (we used TJ’s Wild Rice)
- 2 C shelled edamame, cooked according to instructions
- 2 Japanese eggplant, grilled and cut into bite size pieces (instructions above)
- 1 C organic celery, chopped
- 2 organic cucumbers, sliced with skin on (we quartered them lengthwise and then sliced them)
- 1 organic red bell pepper, diced
- 1 organic yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
- 6 organic green onions, chopped
- 1 C fresh organic basil leaves, torn (you can use Thai basil or Italian basil)
- 1 C fresh organic mint leaves, rough chopped
- 1-1/2 C toasted, salted cashews (or toasted slivered almonds or roasted salted peanuts)
- 1/3 C toasted sesame seeds
- red or green leaf lettuce (optional)
In a large bowl, add in cooled jasmine and wild rice, cooled edamame, cooled eggplant, celery, cucumbers, bell peppers, green onion, basil and mint leaves. Toss all ingredients – adding more herbs if so desired. For assembly, if using lettuce leaves, place them on the plate and divide rice and vegetable mixture equally onto each plate. Equally divide cooled chicken onto each plate and garnish with cashews, more green onion and more sesame seeds. Dress with vinaigrette.
- We didn’t dress our entire rice salad, but rather dressed each plate. We had more salad for the next day so wanted it to hold up. Adding the dressing can break down rice and proteins which results in grainy texture.
- Consider using grilled shrimp or thinly sliced beef, tofu or tempeh, salmon or other fish for your protein. OR go all vegetable!
- This is a great party salad. Serve on large platters with vinaigrette on the side so guests can dress their individual plates.
- For a vegetarian or vegan version, simply exchange chicken for other protein or just make it all vegetables.