Dinner Tonight: Mindy Fox's Peanut Soba, Cabbage, and Chicken Salad


[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Salad for dinner always sounds virtuous, but not necessarily all that fulfilling (or just plain filling at all). Flipping through Mindy Fox's most recent cookbook Salads: Beyond the Bowl, it's clear that Fox, who is the food editor at La Cucina Italiana magazine, is trying to stretch the definition of what a salad can be. It's also refreshing that her range of flavors goes way beyond Italian food, like in this twist on Asian sesame noodles.

Why I Picked This Recipe: I absolutely love sesame noodles, which are fast and easy to prepare and a welcome break from more familiar noodle dishes. But the idea of taking them not as the entire meal, but as the base of a salad with simply dressed shredded cabbage and poached chicken breast, sounded like an interesting and still-quick dinner idea.

What Worked: The cabbage and radish salad against the noodles turned out to be the perfect way to bring lightness and crunch to a dish that does tend to have a monotonous texture. The chicken cooking technique--it's simmered briefly then left to sit off the heat to finish cooking in the warm broth--resulted in exceptionally moist chicken.

What Didn't: It may have been my fault, but the recipe didn't call for rinsing the noodles after cooking, so I didn't. As a result, when I mixed them together with the peanut sauce, the texture ended up rather gummy. I would consider this best as a cold salad and highly suggest rinsing the noodles before tossing them with sauce.

Suggested Tweaks: Rather than salting the chicken before putting into a pot of simmering water, season the water first with salt until it's pleasantly salty. This way the chicken will be seasoned all the way through while it cooks.

Adapted from Salads: Beyond the Bowl.