With a little organisation, it will take you less time to throw this salad together than it would to make a gluten-free sandwich. Trust me!
I usually keep cooked chicken breast on-hand in the refrigerator. It’s to keep me on the straight and narrow – if it’s there I’ll eat it for lunch (tossed through some brown rice with other salad ingredients) instead of just grazing on whatever else I happen to find, healthy or otherwise. To cook, I butterfly the chicken, lay it out flat under the grill and leave it for about 10 minutes, turn and grill on the other side for about 5 minutes. Sometimes, I put chicken breast fillets in the slow cooker, covered in water, and let them gently steam all day. That night, there’s gloriously tender chicken breast for the family meal, plus plenty left over for everyone’s lunches. Either of these methods would work beautifully for this recipe, or you could just poach the chicken breast as I’ve outlined below. The important thing is, however, that you do it in advance so that you can quickly throw the salad together in the morning.
Likewise for the noodles – sit them in hot water the night before, drain after 5 minutes. They’ll be cooled by morning and you’ll have this salad ready in a flash.
For the vegetables, I used the Coles Australian Beetroot Coleslaw mix from my local supermarket. There’s no way I’d be chopping those veggies on a school morning, and I’d never cut them that evenly! Use whatever salad vegetable mix you can find – a Vietnamese salad mix would be heavenly.
I sent this salad to school without the dressing, as the kids aren’t really interested in salad dressings. Below I’ve given the recipe for a dressing, just in case you or your kids aren’t into “nude” salads. The mint garnish is also optional. I loved the mint with this salad and also enjoyed it with a splash of sesame oil and some chopped spring onions. There are so many possibilities for taste variations, but for the basic salad, prepare the components night before and don’t forget to include a fork or chopsticks.
1 chicken breast, skin removed
50 g thin rice noodles (vermicelli)
1 handful fresh coleslaw vegetable mix
Mint, to garnish (optional)
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
1 tbs olive oil
Half-fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring to the boil over high heat.
Halve the chicken breast lengthways and put into the saucepan. Cook on high heat for 10 minutes. Remove chicken from water, drain and cool.
In the meantime, in a large bowl, cover the rice noodles with boiling water and stand for 5 minutes or according to packet directions. Once noodles are soft, drain and allow to cool. Using kitchen scissors, cut noodles into short strands.
Using a fork or clean hands, shred the chicken.
Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk with a fork.
To assemble, pour half of the dressing into the noodles and gently toss to combine. Divide noodles into two bowls or lunch containers. In another bowl, combine chicken, coleslaw and the rest of the dressing. Gently toss to combine, divide and place each portion on top of noodles. Garnish with mint (if desired) and serve immediately.