August 6, 2009

Char’s Chinese Chicken Salad {Naptime Everyday}

Since I grew up in Cooperstown it is frequently assumed that I am a baseball fanatic. Well, I’m not. I loyally root for the Yankees, and enjoy attending major league games now and then, but I don’t worship at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. To those of us in the know, Cooperstown is a town much bigger than just a baseball museum. I can’t wait to show you some of my favorite spots in my Travel Series next week.

But, until then, I will share with you one of my favorite hometown recipes. This one was given to me by my childhood friend Kirsten’s mother, Char. Since Char knows I am not a big fan of mayonnaise she suggested I try her Chinese Chicken Salad. It is completely mayo-free, packed with flavor, and just the thing for taking on a boat ride around Otsego Lake.

This week we’ve been enjoying lots of family boat rides around the lake, taking my daughter swimming in it’s calm waters and regaling her with tales of Otsie the fabled lake monster. On the sunnier days we’ve been making our trips into full-on morning excursions, packing snacks, drinks and lunch food. The day before our latest boat ride I assembled this chicken salad while my daughter was napping. It was a cinch to make while my she slept, and I was able to leave it in the fridge until I needed it the following day.

I am always cautious when preparing food too far in advance. Sometimes an overnight stay in the cool environs of my Frigedaire can completely wreck the flavor of an otherwise tasty dish. But, in this case, the flavor of the salad actually improved during it’s respite in the fridge. The sharpness of the teriyaki mellowed and the subtle flavors of the scallions deepened. I was a little worried that the chow mein noodles would get soggy, but they didn’t. Their crunchiness held up beautifully, creating a nice texture with each bite. Needless to say, we were happy to munch away on this salad during our mid-week cruise. Grateful for the good weather, good food and the slower pace of summer life, sans baseball, in Cooperstown.


Char’s Chinese Chicken Salad

adapted from the recipe given to me by Char Zola


4 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
6 oz. Soy Vey Teriyaki (or any brand of Teriyaki sauce you have on hand)
3 oz. Chow Mein noodles
1 head lettuce
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
.75 oz. sesame seeds, toasted
4 oz. sliced almonds, toasted


½ c. olive oil
4 T. sugar
6 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. coarse salt
1 t. freshly ground pepper


1. Marinate the chicken in teriyaki for 3-4 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350. Bake chicken for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Cube meat and set aside.
3. Break lettuce into bite size pieces and place them on the bottom of a large serving bowl. On top of that, layer the chicken, scallions, toasted sesame seeds, almonds and noodles.
4. Combine all dressing ingredients, pour over the salad and toss all the ingredients together.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

This recipe is delicious and flexible. Feel free to add any other ingredients you would like, there are many variations that would be delicious. I love that this doesn’t require mayonnaise, it makes it easier to transport and I never worry about it getting rancid.

Naptime Stopwatch

The preparation time for this takes about 1 hour from the time the chicken goes in the oven. It is a great use of time during naptime, you’ll have lunch or dinner for several days!

Naptime Reviews

My daughter came around to the teriyaki flavor after I separated out the green onions. Everyone on our picnic loved it.