Friday recipe: backyard barbecue chicken salad

We continue to celebrate May as National Salad Month with our new pals at Noodles & Company, a franchise that feels like anything but. And we really celebrated yesterday at our local Noodles at Valley West Mall when Pete, the general manager and market training manager, and Christina, assistant manager, provided a tasting to some lucky colleagues and me.

“A tasting is a culinary global tour, so get your passports ready,” Pete told us.

Noodles salads - gorgeous enough to gorge upon.

No kidding: We noshed on Noodles’ featured salads – spinach and strawberries, chili lime chicken (“deconstructed spring rolls,” Christina noted) and backyard barbecue chicken. Oh, my, were they delicious – fresh, flavorful, colorful and loaded with tasty textures. We could not pick a favorite. So if you give Noodles a try, go with friends, order all three and enjoy!

Pete and Christina also treated us to some wake-up-your-tastebuds tomato basil bisque and potstickers to start our meal and then, after the salads, some citrus-y pad Thai with shrimp and to-die-for penne rosa with parmesan-crusted chicken. By that time I was adequately sated so could resist licking any dishes. I also managed to hold off devouring the sweet treats they sent with us back to the office.

You may think I’m giving Noodles a shameless plug because I’m basking in the glow of a great lunch and staring fondly at the cookies I brought back to the office. That might be partly true. But I also like Noodles & Company because of their healthy options and commitment to community, as I mentioned in last Friday’s post. In addition, today I learned Noodles will customize your selections (more veggies than pasta? meatless or spicy? Just ask). The vegetables and other ingredients are chopped fresh the day they’re served, including the corn in our barbecue chicken salad that Pete shucked, boiled and cut off the cob himself. The restaurant has no freezers, heat lamps, microwaves or can openers, and you can tell.

Thanks to Pete, Christina and the Noodles crew for a luscious lunch and for today’s recipe, which combines all the great ingredients of a backyard barbecue in a fun and flavorful way.

Backyard barbecue chicken salad (recipe for the home chef)
Serves 4 regular salads or 6-8 small sides

  • 12 oz. bag of mixed lettuce
  • 8 oz. shredded mixed cabbage, red and green
  • ¾ cup cole slaw dressing
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked, shredded, cooled (see below)
  • ½  cup of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • ¾ cup tomatoes, diced
  • ¾ cup corn
  • 1/8 cup red cabbage

To prepare the chicken, place the chicken breasts in a pot that’s just about large enough to fit them in one layer. Add enough water to completely cover the chicken by at least a half inch to an inch. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce heat to a bare simmer so that only an occasional bubble breaks the surface. At this point, partly cover the pot, cook for about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat, leaving the chicken to finish cooking in the hot water for 10-15 more minutes. Remove chicken, allow it to cool and then shred it.

To prepare the salad, combine the shredded chicken and BBQ sauce in a bowl. In a larger bowl, mix the lettuce, cabbage (keeping 1/8 cup of red cabbage aside for garnish) and cole slaw dressing. Place the BBQ chicken, corn and tomatoes on top of the mixed greens. Top with the 1/8 cup of red cabbage to garnish.

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