This Curried Chicken Salad with Pickled Ginger is so refreshing and full of flavour! This will become a staple in your salad repertoire if you are a curry fan. The Pickled Ginger adds a very refreshing hit to the final taste.
I like finding salads substantial enough to be the meal. In the end they are very easy since you are getting your protein and vegetables in the same dish.
This recipe is adapted from one in Cooking Light magazine from May 2001, but classics don't go out of style. I made the dressing creamy with light mayonnaise and light sour cream because the creaminess is a great vehicle to deliver the curry flavour. It also increased the volume of dressing for very few extra calories. I calculated ¼ of this recipe to be 9 Weight Watcher Smart Points.
I was tempted to add raisins because raisins and curry to me are a classic combination but the raising with their sweetness shot the point count up. So feel free to improvise with raisins if you want to splurge.
You can make this salad really easily if you choose to use a rotisserie chicken for the cooked chicken. I like to keep a few chicken breasts cooked and cubed on hand in the freezer that I can quickly turn into a chicken salad or stir fry. You know me.... Queen of Make Ahead!
Pickled Ginger is not difficult to make... you just slice fresh ginger very thinly and steep it in vinegar for a few hours. The ginger itself can be quite hot so I actually just sprinkle a few drops of the vinegar over the top of my salad. It really gave the salad a bright note so I wouldn't skip this step.
For the Curry Dressing, curry powders can vary widely in intensity. The powder I use is fairly mild and generic. One teaspoon didn't make much of an imprint on the dressing so I upped it to two. If you have a particularly pungent mixture or adore curry you may want to adjust to suit your taste. You are going to warm some honey, oil, curry and a bay leaf and allow them to steep. If you are concerned about the strength of the curry start with 1 teaspoon in the warm mixture. You can always add more curry powder to the final dressing mixture.
You can cook the chicken ahead of time, make the dressing and mix the lettuce, carrot, onions and mandarins ahead of time, even up to a day ahead if they are tightly sealed. Mix the chicken and dressing just before serving and top with cashews just before serving.
The salad will hold well in the fridge for a day if you have leftovers.
Because this is an Indian based curry in a creamy dressing, wine choices from dry to off dry. Also try to keep the alcohol level a bit lower because high alcohol will intensify the heat in the dish.
- Sparkling wine, unoaked fruity Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Viognier, Torrontes from Argentina, Riesling, Gerwurztraminer or a blend of the two
- Strong fruity Rosé (think Spain, Portugal, Canada -not Provence), sparkling rosé
- Fruity medium body red such as Gamay, GSM Blend, Chilean Carmenère or medium bodied Sangiovese or Barbera
- 2 cups cubed chicken breast
- 6 cups torn romaine lettuce
- ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 medium carrot peeled and grated
- 2 Tbsps fresh ginger thinly sliced
- ¼ cup rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup dry, roasted cashew pieces
- 1 11 oz mandarin orange pieces
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tsps curry powder adjust to suit your taste
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 Tbsps fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 4 Tbsps light sour cream
- 2 Tbsps light mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon mandarin orange juice reserved from salad ingredients
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Peel ginger knob and slice very thinly. Add ginger and vinegar to a small container and allow to steep.
- Drain mandarins and set aside. Reservie 1 tablespoon juice for the dressing.
- For the dressing, combine oil, honey, curry and bay leaf in a microwaveable dish. Warm in microwave on medium setting for about 30 seconds. Honey should just be warm. Allow mixture to steep about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Add the lemon juice and remaining dressing ingredients. Combine until dressing uniformly blended.
- While dressing is steeping cook the chicken, if using raw chicken. Cube the breasts and bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add the chicken breast cubes when water is at a full boil. Reduce heat and allow chicken to simmer gently 7-10 minutes. Cubes will start to rise to the top when they are cook. Remove a cube periodically and check for doneness. Try not to over cook or chicken will be tough. Allow chicken to cool completely.
- Mix lettuce,carrot, onion and mandarins and arrange as a bed on a large platter.
- Stir dressing into the cooked chicken and mound in the middle of the bed of salad. Top with cashew pieces. Serve with pickled ginger on the side so people can add pieces of ginger or a few drop of the ginger vinegar.