Ina, I’m not going to lie to you. I wasn’t looking forward to trying this Chinese Chicken Salad when it was announced as a Barefoot Bloggers pick for April, because I thought I didn’t like Asian dishes with peanut butter.

When I was a vegetarian and just learning how to cook, I made some Asian-style noodles with peanut butter from one of those “brand name” cookbooks, and that giant top hat-and-monocle-wearing peanut was dead to me for a long time.

But this, this is a salad to change minds. Chunks of roast chicken breast mixed with snow peas, sliced red peppers, scallions and toasted sesame seeds. And the dressing – yes, it has peanut butter – but there’s also rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, dark sesame oil, honey, garlic and ginger. Plenty of big flavors to add complexity to the dressing.

Could you leave the peanut butter out? Yes, but it actually acts as a thickener, giving the dressing enough body to cling to the salad instead of pooling at the bottom of the bowl. If you’re worried about getting too much, start by adding a spoonful to the dressing, whisk it and taste it. A tablespoon might be all you need.

An added bonus: This salad doesn’t contain anything that wilts overnight, so the leftovers still taste fresh and have plenty of crunch. I ate my last bowl for lunch, and it was just as good as the first one. Chinese Chicken Salad, we have a future together.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Adapted from Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Parties!”

Serves 12

  • 4 split chicken breasts (bone-in, skin-on)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound snow peas (or asparagus, sliced into thirds)
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil*
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
  • Up to 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter*
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the chicken on a sheet pan. Rub the skin with olive oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked. Let cool. Remove the meat from the bones, discard the skin, and shred the chicken in large bite-sized pieces.
  3. Combine the chicken, snow peas and peppers in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk the dressing ingredients, and pour over the chicken and vegetables. Add the scallions and sesame seeds, and season to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

*Gluten-Free Tip: Use GF soy sauce, sesame oil and peanut butter.