Last year around this time we did a whole month of healthy recipes since it seemed like everyone was working on those new year’s resolutions trying to sweat Christmas off their butts. I kind of thought we’d do that again but plans changed (at least for me) when at 4 months pregnant I found I don’t want healthy food for an entire month. What I want changes daily, and today it happens to be this beauty. But hey, it is a salad and it does have vegetables in it (and maybe some deep fried wontons...) so it counts, right?
This is seriously the best Asian salad. It’s the salad that you take to work potlucks and church parties and baby showers and people want to be your friend just because you made it. The recipe comes from two wonderful ladies I know, Gisela and Helen. They are both amazing cooks and used to cater together. Helen is a dear friend who happens to be the mother of my other dear friend Melanie. Mel and I grew up together and although now we’re practically sisters, we were at one point bitter enemies. But that’s another story for another day! I spent a lot of time at her house growing up and nearly every time I walked through the door I would find her sweet Dad in his chair in the family room and her smiling Mom in the kitchen with an apron on. I was always just as excited to go see what Helen was cooking as I was to find Melanie and get on with whatever teenage shenanigans we had planned. Helen is the kind of person where if you attend an event where she’s brought food you don’t even care what it is, you just know you want at least two servings of it. She’s catered professionally and taught me a lot of what I know about catering and cooking in general. I adore Helen and I adore everything that comes out of her kitchen, so I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing this recipe with all of you.
I’m also going to try something different today and walk through the recipe in pictures first and then give the specifics at the end. I think that will be easier for those of you copying and pasting recipes, and it will also make it easier to find the printable parts using our PrintFriendly button.
First is the Sweet Sesame Dressing, which I might be able to drink with a straw…
The dressing is easy as can be, and of course you can make it ahead of time. I actually think it’s better if you can make it a little bit ahead. All you need to do is dump everything into a jar at once and shake shake shake.
Now for the wontons, the crowning jewel of this salad. You can find wonton wrappers in the produce department of just about any grocery store. They come in packs like this and are almost always against the wall near the packaged salads, or by the bins of Asian vegetables.
There will be egg roll wrappers as well, which are larger. The wonton wrappers are little squares only about 2″ x 2″. Use a pizza cutter to cut the squares into 3 strips. I usually use about half of the package, but if I’m making the salad for a big group, or anyone other than my family, I load it even more and use the whole thing! Seriously, the wontons with that dressing…I’m drooling just thinking about it.
I usually avoid recipes all together when they involve frying, but this really isn’t that much work. And if you even dare try to skip the wontons I will shun you forever. You only need a little bit of oil (like less than and inch) in the pan and the wontons cook up in just a few seconds. One tip though: If you’re making this for a party in your home, make the wontons ahead of time. 1, because it will save you lots of time, and 2, you don’t want your house smelling like a fast food restaurant when people come over and even the smallest bit of hot oil will do that. You can even make them a day ahead with the dressing. Just keep the wontons in an airtight container at room temp and the dressing in the fridge.
When the wontons are cooked, set them on paper towels to dry. Mmm…look at those golden crispy pieces of perfection. Take one and go dip it in the dressing you probably already made.
For the salad you’ll need to chop some cucumber and red onion, and just toss the little tomatoes right in there. (Helen always put in tomato, onion, and olives, but I don’t like olives and I love cucumbers so that’s my little alteration)
Combine it all with the dressing (don’t pour all of the dressing in at once. Start with some and add more if you need it) and you have the best Asian Salad ever. The wontons will kind of absorb the dressing, but they stay crispy and it’s the most amazing combination.
Asian-inspired wonton salad packs a ton of flavor with a sweet sesame dressing over lettuce, chicken, and other fresh vegetables.
SWEET SESAME DRESSING
2/3 C rice vinegar
1 C canola oil
2 Tbs sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, pressed or very finely minced
2 Tbs soy sauce
1/2 C sugar
4 Tbs sesame seeds
ASIAN WONTON SALAD
2 heads romaine lettuce
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded
1 red onion, sliced thinly
1 cucumber, sliced
1 package wontons
vegetable oil for frying
optional: cashews (Mel noted in the comments that cashews are a yummy addition, I’ll have to try it!)
Place all dressing ingredients into a quart jar (or something equivalent) and shake vigorously. If desired, make ahead of time and store in the fridge.
Heat about 1 inch of oil in a pot on the stove top. Use pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut wontons into thirds (3 strips). You may not need the entire package, depending on how much salad you’re making. I usually use about half of the wonton wrappers. You’ll want the oil at about 375 degrees. Test by dipping a wonton in and seeing if it bubbles up quickly. Fry wontons a few at a time and set on paper towels to dry. These can be made ahead of time and kept in an air tight container.
Tear clean lettuce into chunks and place in a large salad bowl. Top with cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, and red onion. Add shredded chicken and top with Sweet Sesame Dressing. Toss salad together. Once everything is well coated, add wonton strips and gently toss to combine.
If Asian salad is sounding good, you might enjoy this one too. It’s my “detox” salad because it’s so light and packed with fiber. I eat it for several days after caloric weekends!
If Asian salad is sounding good, you might enjoy this one too.
Keywords: Asian, sesame, wonton, salad