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Gingery Napa Slaw with Chicken

Makes 4 servings45 minutes hands on time45 minutes total time

By Catherine Newman

Makes: 4 servings

Total carbohydrates: 11 grams per serving

Hands-on time: 45 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

This salad is my ideal summer meal. For one thing, it requires that the stove be on for a grand total of a mere 10 minutes; for another, it’s cool and crunchy and herby and zippy—totally satisfying without making you need to lie down on the couch in a stupor after eating it. I love Napa cabbage here—the way it somehow gets wilty but stays crisp—but regular green cabbage will work too; just give it a little time to sit and soften after you dress it. Flavor-Saturated Tofu is a great vegetarian substitute for the chicken in this recipe, if you have vegetarians living in your house, which I do.


1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and sliced (for an easy way to cook them, follow our recipe for Basic Simple Chicken) or 2 cups meat shredded from a rotisserie chicken

1/3 cup peanut or vegetable oil, divided (you’ll use one tablespoon to sauté the scallions and ginger, and the rest will go in the dressing)

3 scallions, white and healthy green, sliced

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger

¾ teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 medium or ½ large head of Napa cabbage, slivered (you can just cut crosswise through it, and it will fall naturally to pieces), around 8 lightly packed cups

1/3 cup roasted peanuts or almonds, coarsely chopped

½ cup cilantro leaves (unless you hate cilantro)


1. Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a small pan over medium-low heat and sauté the scallions and ginger until wilted and fragrant, around 3 or 4 minutes. In a food processor or with a hand blender, whir together the scallions and ginger, salt, sesame oil, remaining vegetable oil, and vinegar until the dressing is thick and emulsified. Stick a sliver of cabbage into the dressing and taste it. Does it sing on your tongue? Or does it need a little more salt or vinegar? Add a little more of anything you think it needs, and taste it again.

2. Toss the chicken with a couple tablespoons of dressing.

3. In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with most of the remaining dressing and taste, then add more dressing if the slaw needs it, tossing and tasting as you go. Top with the peanuts or almonds, chicken, and cilantro and serve.

About Catherine

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. She also helped develop Sprout, a WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), as well as Seasoned, their senior version. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health, happiness, and real food at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

[Photo Credit: Catherine Newman]