Sensational Summer Salads

main dishes salads side dishes vegan recipes vegetarian recipes Jun 09, 2019
Sensational Summer Salads

I don’t know about you but certain times of year bring nostalgia for me. Summer is one of those times. From summer camp, running through the sprinklers and eating cold watermelon on the front porch, summer was everything back in the day.

In the midst of my nostalgia and paying homage to what clearly is the best time of year to eat produce, I thought back to one of my favorite salads of all time.

My mom and I used to go to Applebees occasionally – just the two of us. In sunny Mansfield, Ohio (where I grew up) the dining options were extremely limited. Sometimes we would go after a day of shopping or running errands. We both would order the same thing – french onion soup and an oriental chicken salad.

Back in the 90’s that oriental chicken salad was mind blowing. The cool lettuce and crispy cabbage, the hot salty fried chicken, crunchy chow mein noodles and toasted almonds. All topped with a zippy sesame dressing. It was just a divine marriage of crunchy, hot, cold, salty, sweet, toasty and tangy.

So. Freakin. Good.

So of course it had to be on the list of recipes that I converted to plant based. And boy am I glad I did! This one is a real winner folks, tastes just like the real thing. But without all the nonsense. And Lord is there a LOT of nonsense in what (outside of the fried chicken) one would think is a relatively healthy salad.

Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad

Calories: 1410

Fat: 97g

Saturated fat: 15g

Sodium: 1500mg

Sugar: 39g

The nutrition info for Applebee’s salad is horrifying. 97g of fat for a salad? This ought to be illegal. The target range of total fat for a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet is 44 – 78 grams. Their salad also would account for 70% of your daily calories. And too much saturated fat, salt and sugar for one meal, let alone a salad.

Now that we know better, we can do better. And that starts with this knock out, much healthier version of a timeless classic.

Hope you enjoy it over as much good conversation as my mama and I did.

Asian Chik’n Salad


  • 3 cups of chopped romaine lettuce (I use bagged, pre-cut)
  • 2 cups, shredded cabbage slaw mix (red & green cabbage with shredded carrots, I like the angel hair shredded version)
  • 1 package Gardein 7 Grain Crispy Tenders
  • 4 green onions sliced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped (I use closer to 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup dry Chow Mein Noodles (La Choy is the brand I always use)
  • 15oz can mandarin oranges (in juice or light syrup), drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sesame seeds to garnish

Sesame Dressing

  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice or more to taste
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp rice vinegar


  1. Preheat oven and bake the Gardein Chik’n according to package directions.
  2. Put dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake vigorously and set aside.
  3. Mix cabbage and lettuce together in a large bowl
  4. Add in sliced toasted almonds, chow mein noodles, mandarin oranges, green onions and chopped cilantro.
  5. Once the chik’n has cooled a bit, cut it into pieces and add into into the salad. Toss to mix.
  6. Add dressing to the salad right before serving. Add sesame seeds as garnish.

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