Cashew Chicken Chopped Salad with Chili Dusted Mango.

In case you’re wondering, yes I’m still in love with all things chopped salads.

As a reminder: my kind of salads. Read: lots of junk on my salads. How many times can I say salads today? It’s really an odd word if you think about it. SALADS.

I’m back from vacation with a salad on a Monday. How cliche of me. I hope you’re not shocked since I’m pretty cliche and predictable myself. And speaking of cliche and predictable, how the heck is it the second week of August. WHAT. ??? 

Let’s rewind twenty years ago when I would have returned from this same vacation with about two weeks left until school started. In those two weeks, I straight up HOUNDED my mom to take me school supply shopping because I was so gosh darn obsessed with it. To this day, I am still depressed that I can’t go school supply shopping… but I guess I should be happy since I can technically buy some school supplies whenever I would like. My school-starting anxiety would also begin, which was ridiculous considering I was in school with the exact same students for about twelve years. Yet, there I was… the week before school freaking out because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep the night before. I am still this way, by the way. A complete freakazoid.

I really liked school, but I didn’t care that much for class. Does that make sense? I loved some classes, like elementary school English and anything that involved reading or writing, but actual math or science classes… I just could not be bothered. Which really wasn’t that great, because I am such an all-or-nothing, crazy passionate person that if I don’t like something, I just don’t do it. It’s by far my worst quality. If I love something, I am a psycho.

If I dislike it, done. Not even on the radar.

I somehow lucked out and was a mostly A, sometimes B, one-time D (I’m looking at you, college econ, aka the worst waste of time ever) but always-eager-to-use-my-new-colored-pens student. I was never someone who “didn’t have to study,” whatever that means. How unfair. We weren’t allowed to have trapper keepers at my elementary school because they barely fit in the desks, and that was pretty much the worst news of my life. I mean, Lisa Frank did her thang with notebooks and folders, but the trapper keepers…!

Oh the trapper keepers – they were giant and glossy and oh-so neon. Doesn’t everyone need a spiral journal that is covered in clouds which are topped with unicorns who have multicolored horns and are prancing underneath a rainbow with glittery stars while panda bears and dolphins and neon leopards watch from afar? Yes. The answer is always yes.

Now, instead of shopping for school supplies and making lists of what I need for classes, I make salads that are chopped into bits because I’m still ten years old inside and can’t eat large pieces of vegetables. Not much has changed.

What are you doing on this fine Monday? Shopping for gel pens and scented markers? Please tell me yes. I’m going to recreate this chocolate-covered potato chip ice cream that I had while on vacation so yeah… at least we can look forward to that.


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Chopped Cashew Chicken Salad

Yield: serves 2

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sugar snap peas, the peas cut into thirds
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 shallots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup roasted cashews, chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1/2 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
4 cups butter lettuce, chopped
1 green onion, sliced
2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
1 mango, half peeled and chopped, half peeled and sliced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Directions:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the peas, peppers, shallots and garlic with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and stir to coat. Add in cashews. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the veggies and place them aside in a bowl.

Season the chicken with the remaining salt and pepper. Add the other tablespoon of olive oil and the sesame oil to the skillet and add the chicken. Toss well to coat, then cook until browned on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add in the soy sauce and stir, cooking for another minute. Turn off the heat and add the chicken to the bowl of vegetables.

To make the salad, combine the chopped lettuce with the chopped mango, vegetables and chicken. Add in the cashews, green onion and cilantro and toss. Slice some additional mango and sprinkle a little chili powder on top. Place on top of the salad. Serve! I find that with the flavors of the cooked chicken and veggies, this salad needs no dressing. Add your favorite if you wish!

p.s. This is delicious. Inspired by my old school healthy cashew chicken. Just as good as school supplies. Sorta.