It’s the middle of the summer, and three small words keep echoing in my ears: Hazy, Hot, and Humid.
While summer is my least favorite season of the year, I do love the focus on fresh, simple food that it brings. No one wants to turn on the oven when it’s close to 100 degrees! So I turn to my garden and the bounty found at the local farmer’s market for my dinner inspiration. My family eats a lot of salad this time of the year, but I must admit that I am always left with one problem: hungry teens! No matter how much protein is packed into a salad or how many different veggies I squeeze in, those boys of mine are hungry an hour after dinner. It makes my wallet groan!
A few weeks ago I signed up to take the JSL Foods Blogger Recipe Challenge. I opted to create a cold salad featuring their Fortune Mandarin Orange Yakisoba Stir Fry Noodles. The addition of noodles to my salad recipe below adds a little bit of heartiness to a light dish and satisfies the hunger of those teens for just a bit longer. These noodles are precooked and steamed for your convenience. They use 100% all natural ingredients, have no cholesterol, no trans fat, and no MSG, and I can find them easily at my local Shop Rite. I think, that maybe, just maybe, they may be the solution to my salad conundrum.
This salad is chock full of fresh ingredients and features a tangy and slightly spicy sauce. Everything nestles perfectly in a romaine lettuce leaf. This is the perfect summer meal. No need to turn on the oven. No need to even use the stove top.
Mandarin Chicken & Veggie Lettuce Wraps
serves 4 (2 wraps each)
1 package Mandarin Orange Yakisoba Stir Fry Noodles, spice packet reserved
2 cups finely chopped savoy cabbage
2 cups finely chopped red cabbage
1 – 1/2 cups finely chopped kale leaves
1 cup shredded carrot, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped snow peas
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 can (8.25oz) mandarin oranges packed in water, drained
1 spice packet from the stir fry noodles
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 Tablespoons rice vinegar
3 Tablespoons sweet Thai chili sauce
6 tablespoons avocado oil
2 cups cooked white meat chicken cut into thin slices**
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 cup crunchy Lo Mein noodles
8 large, sturdy Romaine lettuce leaves
Remove the noodles from the packet, trying to keep them as intact as possible. Place them on a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, slice the noodles into very thin slices. Turn your cutting board and repeat the process in the other direction. The goal is to cut the noodles into the size of rice. Continue to work your knife through the noodles until the desired size is reached. Set aside. Remember, these noodles are already fully cooked.
Break apart the noodles with your fingers as some of them will stick together.
Prepare all of the fresh vegetables. The cabbages, kale, carrots, and peas should be similar in size to the cut noodles. Finely chop the vegetables and add to the noodles. Slice the white and green parts of the scallions as thin as possible. Add to the bowl.
Add all of the ingredients for the dressing into a blender. Process until all of the ingredients are well incorporated and the dressing is emulsified. Pour the dressing into the bowl with the noodles and vegetables. Stir together.
Evenly distribute the mixture among the lettuce leaves.
Cut each of the mandarin oranges in thirds. Distribute among the wraps.
Top with the cooked chicken; sprinkle each with a bit of black sesame seed, and scatter a few Lo Mein noodles on top and serve.
**During the hot summer months, I like to put my slow cooker to work for me. During the weekend I will cook up a whole chicken in the slow cooker. I allow it to cool then remove the meat and portion it out for lunches and dinner during the week. This helps me to avoid using the stove all together for dinner (which I love).