I know a lot of people who don’t think salad can be a satisfying meal. They think of it as fine for a first course or a side dish, but never a main course. If you’re one of those people, make this salad. It will change your mind. There are so many different flavors and textures going on…the tender, nutty chicken…the crispy, sweet banana chips…the tang from the yogurt-based poppy seed dressing. It all works together amazingly well.
Unsweetened, desiccated coconut was the one thing I wanted to add to this salad but in my haste forgot (it’s so hard to be patient when something smells as good as this chicken does when it’s cooking). I’ll take this as an excuse to make this salad again. And it will give me a chance to pick up some King’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread, since I think it would be a fantastic pair.
Not only is this salad a fabulously delicious and satisfying meal on its own, but there is something interesting about its main ingredients. Coconuts, mango, and bananas grow abundantly in Haiti, which happens to be this month’s focus for Regional Recipes. (For more on Haitian food, see here.) I’m sending this salad to Joanne of Eats Well with Others for her Regional Recipes round-up of Haitian dishes!
Tropical Chicken Salad
(Yield: 4 servings)
Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing (see below)
4 (4-6 oz) chicken breast cutlets
½ c macadamia nuts, divided
1 large egg, beaten
Olive oil (to lightly coat the pan)
8-10 c lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 ripe mango, diced
¼ c banana chips
¼ c unsweetened, desiccated coconut
Salt and pepper
King’s Hawaiian Sweet Bread (optional, for serving)
Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing:
¼ c low-fat plain yogurt
1 TB canola oil
1 teaspoon each lemon juice and poppy seeds
½ to 1 teaspoon honey (depending on your taste)
Pinch salt and pepper
Whisk together all ingredients for the dressing.
Crush ¼ c of the macadamia nuts and Cheerios to a coarse meal (a few larger pieces are ok). Season the chicken with salt and pepper; dip the chicken in the beaten egg and let the excess drip off. Coat the chicken in the crushed macadamia nut/Cheerio mixture.
Heat a large pan over medium to medium high heat and add enough oil to just cover the bottom of the pan (about 2 TB). When the oil starts to ripple, add the chicken and cook about 3-4 minutes on the first side or until golden brown. Flip the chicken over and cook another 3-4 minutes, or until golden. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Arrange the salad in each of 4 large bowls: put the lettuce on the bottom, then top with the mango, banana chips, remaining macadamia nuts, coconut, and a drizzle of the Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing. Place the chicken on top and serve.