At least once every two weeks or so, Sarah and I like to have what we call “meal salad” for dinner. There are a couple of keys to a good meal salad:
- The lettuce must be emphatically crunchy. Iceberg is best. Butter lettuce would be cool, too. In an absolute pinch, you could get away with hearts of romaine. This is not the place for fancy delicate greens.
- The dressing must be creamy. We like good quality store-bought dressings like Ken’s (Sarah likes Honey Mustard, I like Ranch).
- The chicken must be crunchy. I used to buy chicken fingers from the deli, but just as often I will fry or bake frozen chicken fingers. Of course, you could also make your own.
- You must have some other crunchy item, preferably La Choy chow mein noodles.
- I highly recommend some sort of other protein as well, such as cooked chickpeas or hard boiled egg.
The rest is just adjusting things to your taste. Is this salad going to win any awards for Innovation in Food Bloggery? No. Is it the absolute healthiest option? No, probably not. It’s not even terribly inexpensive, if you’re buying chicken fingers from the deli. But here’s the thing: it’s so much cheaper than going out to eat. It packs well for lunch the next day: pack the lettuce and chickpeas in a large Tupperware container, and pack the chicken and chow mein noodles separately in little bags. When lunchtime rolls around, dump it all in the lettuce container, put the lid on, shake it up, and eat!
Meal Salad with Crispy Chicken, Chickpeas, and Crunchies
- 1 small head iceberg lettuce, core removed and leaves cut or torn into 1″ chunks
- about 1 lb. crispy fried or baked chicken pieces, either bought from the deli, baked from frozen, or homemade (recipe here)
- about 1 cup crispy chow mein noodles
- 1 14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- optional: chopped hard cooked egg, sliced red onion, tomato wedges, sliced olives, sunflower seeds, etc.
- any store bought or homemade dressing, to taste
Divide the lettuce and toppings among four bowls and top with dressing (if everyone is eating the same dressing, or if you’re feeling like a generous host and want to do this several times for each different salad, it’s nice to combine everything in a very large bowl, toss it together to make sure it’s all combined well, then transfer to serving bowls).