Chinese Chicken Salad with Red Chile Peanut Dressing

Just when you thought the worst was behind us, it is hot, hot, hot again. Consider this an excuse not to cook, and I’m writing all of you a permission note right now. Keep it cool this week and make simple meals. Don’t heat your house up. Here’s what to make when the stove and oven are off limits.

For breakfast, make overnight oats or some chilly chia pudding. Do this before you go to bed and you’ll have a bracing breakfast waiting for you in the morning. Other cool ideas: fresh fruit and yogurt, cold cereal and milk, or a smoothie. If you insist on something hot, microwave eggs in a cup or make breakfast burritos in the microwave. Remember, no stove! 

Use your Instant Pot and hard boil some eggs. You can make egg salad for lunch, or toss them onto a cold Cobb or Nicoise salad. Use some for snacks and don’t forget about deviled eggs. You can also use your Instant Pot to poach chicken breasts. Add 1 cup of water to your Instant Pot and place fresh chicken breasts on a trivet. Season with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder. Pressure cook on high, 10  minutes for breasts under 2-inch thickness, 15 minutes for over 2-inch thickness. Let pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then carefully turn valve to venting. Remove chicken, then shred or cube. Store covered and refrigerated. 

Make chicken salad with diced celery and mayo. You can add in grapes, chopped nuts, or onions, if you like. I like to use Vegenaise and add celery, scallions, fresh cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and coriander, and 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, a squeeze of lemon juice, and some salt and pepper. This is Gwyneth Paltrow’s Moroccan Chicken Salad recipe and it’s delicious.  

For dinner, try this Chinese Chicken Salad with Red Chile Peanut Dressing. Cool and refreshing, it’s crunchy and filling, but nice and light, making it perfect for this hotter weather we’ve been having. To keep this easy, a rotisserie chicken is a godsend, especially when you’re trying not to heat things up. You can get at least two meals from one chicken, maybe three, depending on your needs. The chicken is easier to handle when it’s warm, so break your chicken down and pull all the meat off the bones as soon as you get home. Transfer to a covered container and store in the fridge.

Get in the habit of using a liquid measuring cup to make dressing. Measure your 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar first, then add the rest of the dressing ingredients as below. I reordered them so that you can measure all of the tablespoon ingredients, and then measure all of the teaspoon ones. It speeds things up and also lessens the chance of a mistake if you get interrupted when you are cooking. After you measure the last of the measuring spoon ingredients, measure the 1/2 cup of canola oil into the liquid measure, then whisk and pour. I reduced the oil to 1/3 cup when I made this and also only used about half of the dressing. If you do this, too, you’ll have enough dressing left over for another salad. I didn’t want the dressing to be spicy, so I left the chipotle pepper purée out and also swapped in sugar snap peas in place of the snow peas, which gave a nice sweetness to the salad. I added some diced Persian cucumbers for crunch and used Thai basil from my garden instead of using mint. 

Quench and replenish with a homemade All-Natural Sports Drink that has no processed ingredients, artificial sweeteners or food dyes. Not just for long, hot summers, it will come in handy for fall sports season, too. Adjust any of the ingredients to your liking. And think cool thoughts. We’ll be knee deep in apples and pumpkins before you know it. 

Chinese Chicken Salad with Red Chile Peanut Dressing


  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle pepper purée
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper 


  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1/4 pound snow peas, julienned 
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • chili oil, optional
  • lime halves, for garnish

Measure vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, chipotle pepper purée and canola oil into a liquid measuring cup. Whisk together then season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Combine cabbage, lettuce, carrots, snow peas, cilantro, and green onion in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving platter or individual bowls, then top with shredded chicken, chopped peanuts and mint. Drizzle with chili oil, if desired. Garnish with lime halves. 

 – adapted from recipe by Bobby Flay

All-Natural Sports Drink

  • 3 cups coconut water
  • 1 cup 100% fruit juice 
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice, optional

Combine coconut water and fruit juice in a 2-quart pitcher. Stir in honey and sea salt until dissolved. Add water and lemon or lime juice and stir. Serve chilled.

– recipe by Samantha Skaggs

Donna Ferguson

Donna Ferguson

I love to cook, garden, and write about all the things in Vancouver and the Northwest that make life so great.

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