Copycat Panera Asian Sesame Chicken Salad Recipe

This recipe captures the essence of Panera’s Asian Sesame Chicken Salad, featuring romaine lettuce, crispy wonton strips, toasted almonds, succulent chicken, and a flavorful Asian sesame dressing.

Ingredients:

For the Salad:

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup fried wonton strips (see instructions below)

For the Asian Sesame Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sesame seeds

Instructions:

Prepare the Chicken:

  • Preheat your grill or skillet over medium heat.
  • Season the chicken breast with salt and lemon pepper.
  • Grill or cook the chicken for 6-7 minutes per side, or until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
  • Remove the chicken from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing it into thin strips.

Make the Wonton Strips (Optional):

  • Cut two wonton wrappers into thin strips (about 1/4 inch wide).
  • Heat around 2 inches of canola oil in a heavy skillet to 365°F (185°C).
  • Carefully fry the wonton strips in batches for 30 seconds each, until golden brown and crispy.
  • Drain the strips on paper towels to remove excess oil.

Assemble the Dressing:

  • In a small saucepan, combine the rice vinegar and sugar. Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Remove from heat and let the mixture cool completely.
  • In a jar with a lid, whisk together the cooled vinegar mixture, canola oil, sesame oil, salt, and sesame seeds.
  • Secure the lid and shake vigorously to emulsify the dressing.

Assemble the Salad:

  • In a large bowl, combine the chopped romaine lettuce, chopped cilantro, toasted almonds, and sliced chicken.
  • Drizzle with the desired amount of Asian sesame dressing and toss gently to coat.
  • Garnish with fried wonton strips (if using) and enjoy!

Tips:

  • You can substitute pre-cooked chicken breasts, rotisserie chicken, or shredded chicken for convenience.
  • If you don’t have wonton wrappers, crispy chow mein noodles can be used as a substitute.
  • To toast the almonds, spread them on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
  • Adjust the amount of dressing according to your preference.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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