Nineties food nostalgia is all the rage right now, and my recipe today is a play on one of my favorite salads that was quintessentially 90’s. Originally invented by Wolfgang Puck at Spago as an entree salad for Beverly Hill elites in the mid 80’s, it quickly spread like wild fire to every corner of our country. To this day most every chain restaurant and hotel room service menu has a version, and every home cook has their own version of this crowd pleasing mash up of Chinese flavors. I have had many versions, and I really haven’t met one I didn’t like (I am embarrassed to say I ate the Wendy’s version weekly as a teenager). I decided to add cooked and cooled rice noodles to give it some heft, and traded out the sugary vinaigrette for my dressing I use on my Tahini noodles one of my most successful recipes and is food 52 approved, it adds a nice creamy balance and that addictive touch of sesame flavor that every good Chinese chicken salad has. I used jicama along side julienne carrots in place of the often used canned water chestnuts, I love the crunch they add, but not the tinned flavor they tend to hold onto when served out of the can, I also ditched the mandarin oranges that many folks add. I used some chicken I roasted and shredded earlier this week, fried wonton skins, used toasted almonds, and put some sesame seeds on to finish. It turned out delicious, and this recipe is a great way to get the kids to eat veggies, if the chicken is left off it is also vegan, so another one to put it the rotation for Summer potlucks. This dish is also great to mix and match your preferences and use the best of what’s in season.
You will need:
1 recipe Tahini dressing you may not use it all but it keeps well refridgerated.
8 oz dried rice noodles, cooked, and rinsed with cold water
1 head of red leaf lettuce, chopped
2 cups shredded chicken, or protein of choice
10 wonton wrappers, fried and placed on paper towels to drain off excess oil
1/4 cup toasted almonds or nut of choice
1 cup julienne carrots
1/2 cup shredded jicama
1 T. sesame seeds
1 handful cilantro, stems removed.
3 green onions, sliced
2 tsp. chili oil (optional)
I start by making my dressing the night before you can also fry your wontons or buy some from the nearest take out joint, and the chicken can by done in advance or you can use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. While the water for my noodles boil, I prep my veggies, having everything organized makes this very easy to make in advance and throw together quickly. In a large bowl, or on a platter, layer ingredients, and top with dressing, sesame seeds, green onions, and chili oil are reserved for the top. So put on some overalls, put your hair up in a scrunci and get ready to party like it’s 1991!