Mariel here. Brain. Is. Fried. I have four deadlines in advance of the July Fourth festivities so my vocab is running on empty – so empty that I stood snapping and clucking my tongue at a bewildered cashier, searching for what to call that tube dealie I use to drink iced coffee. I was literally grasping for “straw.” Idiot. So forgive me for my lame-a$$ intro and allow me to get right to the dirty details.
Lacking inspiration, motivation, and perspiration, I cobbled together three different recipes in hopes that the salad baby that sprang forth would be a winner. It was. The lovechild of my mom’s Thai Mango Salad, Gourmet‘s Carrot-Ginger Dressing and a riff on Savor the Thyme‘s Crispy Baked Panko Chicken Tenders, this delicious summer dinner is heavy on flavor and fairly light on effort. Everything tastes fresh, crunchy, crispy or zingy and it’s all good for you – good for the mind, body and dimly flickering spirit. Annndddd….I’m out.
Mango-Spinach Salad Topped with Oven-Baked Panko Chicken and Carrot-Ginger Dressing
For the dressing (makes about 2 cups):
3 large carrots, washed, peeled and cut into chunks – $0.89
1/3-cup fresh ginger, peeled, cut into chunks – $0.79
¼-cup chopped onion – $0.89
¼-cup seasoned rice vinegar – stock
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce – stock
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil – stock
½-cup canola oil – stock
¼-cup water – stock
For the chicken
2lbs of thin chicken cutlets, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels – $7.69
3 big pinches of salt, divided – stock
3 big pinches of pepper, divided – stock
3 big pinches of chili powder, divided – stock
1 teaspoon of honey – stock
2 eggs, lightly beaten – stock
2 garlic cloves, smashed or minced – stock
½-cup whole wheat or white flour – stock
1½-cups Panko bread crumbs – $1.89
For the salad:
2 ripe mangos, chopped – $3.00
2 red peppers, chopped – $1.99
1 sweet onion, chopped – $0.89
8-oz bag of spinach, roughly chopped – $3.99
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $22.02
Cost per serving: $5.50
Directions for dressing:
1. Make this first to allow flavors to mingle. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Directions for the chicken:
1. Sprinkle the rinsed and dried cutlets with a pinch of pepper, salt and chili powder – season it evenly. Set aside for about 15 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line the bottom of the oven with tinfoil to catch crumbs. You’ll see why.
3. Grab three shallow dishes. In one dish, place the flour sprinkled with a pinch of chili powder, pepper and salt. In another dish, pour the panko crumbs and season with a pinch of salt, pepper and chili powder. In a third dish, pour in the lightly beaten eggs and mix with the honey and garlic cloves.
5. Dredge each cutlet in flour, shaking off any excess. Then dip the cutlet in the egg and let it drip for a sec. Then roll the cutlet in the breadcrumb mixture and place the tenders on a clean plate.
6. Bake the tenders directly on your oven rack – yep, really – for 18-20 minutes depending on thickness of the meat. If you’d rather not bake directly on your oven rack, cook on a wire rack used for baking. Either way, make sure the bottom is lined with tinfoil to catch crumbs (as I mentioned earlier).
Directions for the salad:
1. Combine all salad ingredients in a big bowl and dress with the carrot-ginger concoction. Top with a crispy cutlet and enjoy!