Chicken salad in peanut vinaigrette

This is the perfect use for my least favorite part of the chicken. Chicken breasts shred easily when boiled; however, when you boil chicken (or any meat), you have to make up for a huge lack of flavor. This bold vinaigrette does just that though. 

I'm not a chicken salad girl when it comes to the traditional version, but throw shredded chicken into this slightly sweet, slightly tangy peanut vinaigrette and I'm all yours. The freshness of  herbs and crunch of grated carrots and crushed peanuts help round out the flavors.

What to know

As you can imagine, this peanut vinaigrette is a killer accompaniment with raw and cooked veggies, as a salad dressing, over glass noodles, and with meats, especially grilled chicken and flank steak.

My favorite way to reinvent this chicken salad is via the spring roll. Fill spring roll wrappers with a few tablespoons of the chicken salad, a hearty wedge of avocado and several thin slices of cucumber. 

Chicken salad in peanut vinaigrette

What you need

2 large chicken breasts, boiled and shredded

1 cup carrots, grated

2 tbsp  roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

1 tbsp thai basil, roughly chopped

1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1/2 lime

1/2 cup peanut vinaigrette (recipe below)

How to do it

To cook the chicken: Place chicken breasts into a large stock pot and add water until just covered. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once the water has reached a boil, lower to simmer and cover. Allow to cook for 15-18 minutes, or until cooked through (165-degree F). Remove from water and set aside to cool.

While the chicken cools, make the peanut vinaigrette (below), shred carrots with a grater (if not pre-shredded), and chop peanuts and herbs.

Once the chicken has cooled, using your hands, pull apart breast meat into long shreds and place in a large mixing bowl. 

Add carrots to the mixing bowl and 1/2 cup of peanut vinaigrette, and use a spatula to mix chicken, carrots and peanut vinaigrette. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed; add more peanut vinaigrette, if you'd like.

Place chicken salad in a serving dish and garnish by with peanuts, thai basil, parsley and lime juice. Serve immediately, or hold the garnish, refrigerate the salad and serve chilled.

The chicken salad should be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week; do not store with garnish as the lime juice will become bitter and the herbs will brown - add garnish whenever serving.

Peanut vinaigrette

What you need

4 tbsp peanut butter

4 tbsp hot water

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp chili paste, like Sambal Oelek (optional)

How to do it

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together peanut butter and hot water until smooth. 

Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar and chili paste (if using) to the mixing bowl and whisk until combined with the peanut butter. 

Taste the vinaigrette; adjust seasoning and flavors according to your preferences (if you want it sweeter, add a touch more brown sugar; spicier, add a touch more chili paste; etc.).

This recipe yields about 1 cup of peanut vinaigrette. Store extra peanut vinaigrette in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a month; stir well each time you remove from the fridge before using.