Chicken, Cheddar, and Apple Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing

I hope the combination of cheddar cheese with ginger-lime dressing doesn’t deter you from making this, because I didn’t realize right away that the combination could seem unlikely and even unpleasant.  However, I loved the use of cheddar cheese in my salad, and I actually found it to be the star ingredient: by the time the salad was mostly eaten, I found myself scraping the bowl with disappointment, unable to find anymore matchstick morsels of dairy goodness.

My suggestion, if you make this salad, is to buy great quality cheddar.  Now is the moment I’ve been waiting for, when I can bring up the one place in New York that feels like a second home to me, mainly because it is a shrine to all things delicious and gourmet.  I am speaking of none other than Chelsea Market, an indoor artisanal market of sorts where I would set up a bed and live if that were socially acceptable.  Long story short, Lucy’s Whey opened up in Chelsea Market about a year ago, and I admire their mission and purpose, which is to sell artisanal and delicious cheeses that are only made in America.  After I told the saleswoman what type of salad I wanted to prepare, she helped me select a cheddar from Cellar’s at Jasper Hill in Vermont which is the perfect blend of nutty, sharp, and rich.

There are two things about this salad that I should mention.  Firstly, if I were to do it again I would probably replace the granny smith apple with a pear, just because I’ve never really liked apples in my salad and I don’t know what I was thinking.  Secondly, this recipe requires shredded chicken.  To easily shred chicken: put the chicken breast in a pot and fill it with enough water or chicken broth to just cover the chicken.  Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until chicken’s center is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit in the pot for 10 minutes.  Shred chicken using two forks or your hands.

If you decide to play around with the dressing, please let me know what you come up with!

Chicken and Apple Salad with Cheddar and Ginger-Lime Vinaigrette – serves 1
For the salad:
1 small head boston lettuce or butter lettuce
2.5 ounces/70 grams sharp cheddar cheese
1 granny smith apple
1/2-cup loosely packed bean sprouts
1 chicken breast, shredded
1/4-cup roasted peanuts
1-2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as sunflower or canola
1 tablespoon honey
1/2-teaspoon freshly minced ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime
1.  Wash the lettuce and separate the leaves.  Discard any lettuce tops that are wilted.  Slice each lettuce leaf lengthwise into 1/2-inch slivers (you can stack them on top of each other and cut several at a time to make this easier).  Place in a salad bowl.
2.  Cut cheese into matchstick-sized pieces, roughly 1/4- to 1/2-inch in thickness.
3.  Wash and dry the apple.  Cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds.  Cut one half of the apple into thin slices, then cut each slice lengthwise into matchstick-sized pieces (similar to the cheese). Save the other apple half for another use, or eat it for dessert!
4.  Add bean sprouts, chicken, and peanuts to salad.
5.  Make dressing: combine oil and honey in a small bowl and whisk together.  Slowly add in ginger and cilantro while whisking all the while.  Add lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
6.  Sprinkle dressing over salad; garnish with roughly chopped cilantro.