Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Panera Asian Sesame Chicken Salad

*** Susan's note: Oh my goodness! I am so excited that Panera finally made this recipe available via their website! I eat this salad almost once a week, so I am thrilled to be able to make it at home, Don't forget the cilantro! And don't worry about frying your own wontons - that's too much work. Buy those crispy Chinese wontons at the store (bagged in the Asian section).

Asian Sesame Chicken Salad
2 wonton wrappers
Canola oil, for frying
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
4 cups romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces, loosely packed
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
3 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breast, grilled and sliced thinly on a bias
¼ cup Panera Bread Asian Sesame Dressing (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. To prepare wonton strips, cut wonton wrappers into 1/4 inch strips. In a deep skillet, pour canola oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches. Heat oil to 365°F. Carefully drop wonton slices into hot oil and fry for about 30 seconds, or until crisp and golden. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Arrange almonds in a single layer on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 5 minutes, toss nuts, then toast for an additional 5 minutes, or until golden. Remove from pan to cool.

To make the salad, toss the lettuce, cilantro, wonton strips, chicken, and dressing in a large mixing bowl until combined. Place the mixture on a serving plate. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and almonds and serve.

Panera Bread Asian Sesame Dressing

Makes 1 ¼ cups

¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¾ cup canola or vegetable oil

COMBINE all ingredients except canola oil in a medium mixing bowl with a wire whisk. Once ingredients are combined, slowly pour in the oil while whisking to form an emulsion.