Seriously. The title don't lie.
This salad was first inspired by Old Chicago's Asian Chicken Salad which, I must be honest, has gotten progressively worse over the years. The last time I had it was such a let-down that I went home and immediately made plans to make the salad, my way, the following day.
My version of the salad is chock-full of veggies and whole wheat linguine, and tossed in a tangy-sweet asian dressing.
Please don't be scared by the ingredients in the dressing. It sounds strange, I know. But it is. so. good.
My version tastes fabulous on the day you make it, and possibly even more fabulous the next day as leftovers.
My version costs about the same to make as one order of the same salad from the aforementioned locale, yet provides about six generous servings.
My version is the best Asian salad you'll ever eat.
Here's what you'll need:
3 carrots, skin peeled off, then peeled into long, thin strips
1 lb. shrimp, sauteed for 3 minutes in a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat (you could also omit the shrimp entirely to make this a veg-fest, or you could sub chicken)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
½ head of romaine lettuce, sliced into bite-sized pieces
½ head iceberg lettuce, sliced into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, sliced
1 lb. whole wheat fettucine or linguine, cooked to al dente
2 tbs. toasted sesame strips
optional: fried wonton strips (I didn't use them, but I think they'd be really tasty in this dish)
⅓ cup sweet chili sauce (find it in the Asian food section!)
½ cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 cloves grated garlic
Milk, to thin
Prepare all the vegetables while the pasta and shrimp cook.
Once the pasta is cooked through, drain, then run with cold water until the pasta is chilled. You could also submerge the pasta in a bowl of ice cubes and water to speed up the cooling process.
Prepare the dressing by simply whisking everything together. Blend well. Add the milk last, to thin out the dressing as needed. You want it to be thin enough to coat the salad, but you don't want it to be runny.
Toss together all the vegetables (except the avocado), the chilled pasta, and the shrimp. Pour dressing (you probably won't want to use all of it) over the salad and toss to combine. Top each portion with sliced avocado and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
Gloat over how much better your version is than that other place's version.
Fantasize about opening a restaurant where all you'll make are better versions of other restaurants' dishes.
Decide that you're being petty and need to grow up and stop gloating.
Serve yourself just a bit more of the salad and resume gloating.
You deserve it.