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July 29, 2010

Sesame seeds (Recipe: cucumber and chicken salad with sesame ginger dressing)

Cucumber chicken salad 

An old Assyrian myth holds that the gods drank sesame wine, pressed from fermented sesame seeds, the night before they created the Earth.

I can picture it now: a group of gods sitting at a bar, doodling on cocktail napkins, the way all major construction projects are designed. What better explanation for the wacky shapes of the continents?

When it comes to the wine, though, the gods definitely were on to something. Sesame seeds and sesame oil -- and, yes, mostly likely sesame wine -- are among the world's healthiest foods, rich in minerals like manganese, copper, calcium, zinc and iron that have beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, respiratory and vascular health, and osteoporosis.

So those gods who allegedly created the Earth might have been looped, but they were definitely the healthiest of gods.

What are sesame seeds?
The seeds of a flowering plant. They taste like nuts, but they're not.

How/where to store:
In the refrigerator or freezer. Sesame seeds are rich in natural oil, and as a result they will turn rancid if stored at room temperature.

More facts about sesame seeds, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Sesame seeds (Recipe: zahtar)

Cucumber and chicken salad with sesame ginger dressing

Cucumber and chicken salad with sesame ginger dressing

With leftover grilled chicken breast, a cucumber, and condiments from the Asian shelf in my pantry, this salad came together in less than ten minutes. (If you need to cook chicken for this, steam or grill a 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast half.) You can turn it into a more substantial main course dish by adding some cooked pasta. Adapted from Japanese Light: Heart-Friendly, Age-Defying Recipes from the World's Healthiest Cuisine, by Kimiko Barber, this recipe serves 3-4.

Ingredients

2 cups shredded leftover grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken
2 small cucumbers or 2/3 of an English (seedless) cucumber, cut into wedge-shaped chunks
1/2 tsp Asian sesame oil
2 scallions, sliced on the diagonal (optional), for garnish
1/2 tsp black sesame seeds, for garnish

For the sesame ginger dressing:
4 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
1 Tbsp sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 tsp light miso

Directions

Shred the chicken and add it to a large mixing bowl along with the cucumber chunks.

Use a mortar and pestle to grind the sesame seeds into a coarse paste. Add the sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and miso, and continue to grind into a smooth paste. Add a drop of water if you'd like a thinner dressing.

Drizzle the chicken and cucumber with the sesame oil and miso dressing. Arrange in a serving bowl, and garnish with chopped scallions and black sesame seeds.


More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Asparagus in miso sauce
Squash and chicken soup
Potato salad with sesame dressing
Green bean sesame sauce toss
Chicken with mole colorado

Other recipes that use sesame seeds:
Soy-glazed sweet potatoes with sesame seeds, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sesame seed and saffron bread, from Arabic Bites
Sesame-orange chicken, from Simply Recipes
Squid ink pasta with black trumpet mushrooms, from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
Chocolate sesame cookies, from Green Gourmet Giraffe

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Comments

Every Friday, I go grocery shopping after school. To make it easy, I get a rotisserie chicken. Then on Saturday, I do something with the leftovers. This will be it!

Looks delicious! So many good flavors coming together in that dressing.

This looks so good! I don't use sesame seeds/oil/(wine?) enough. You've given me just the nudge I've been needing.

The sesame ginger dressing sounds perfect for summer. And so versatile. I am diggin' Asian flavors lately.

What an absolutely perfect lunch salad for the summer!!! I'm always looking for good cold salads to pack. I love this combo.

Great recipe - Light and healthy and yummy. I have re-discovered cucumbers lately. I had forgotten how delicious they are.

Pam, I'm a rotisserie-chicken-a-week gal myself. At the end, every week, I make soup stock. How did we live before rotisserie chickens?

Kalyn, the dressing is also delicious on roasted or grilled vegetables. I love to make extra and keep it in the fridge.

Christine, same here, I don't use sesame enough. Well, I do use sesame oil in Asian cooking, but this summer it's been so hot that I haven't been cooking much at all!

Karina, there is no time of year when I'm not into Asian flavors. In a former life, I'm sure I was Chinese.

EB, cucumbers are one of the most cooling foods in summer. My local markets are now carrying the small seedless cucumbers, and Kirbys, which I use for pickles, are at the farm stands.

Donna, same here. I've even been cooking cucumbers, too.

This looks awesome and I'll bet tastes as good as it looks! I have all the ingredients to make this (always a plus). I like to sprinkle black sesame seeds on my Asian noodles (hot or cold) or rice. It looks good in a bento box lunch!

oooh....really thinking this needs to be one of my lunches next week!

Perfect salad for this time of the year! And I loved the lesson on the gods drinking sesame wine... :-)

I can ALWAYS use a new recipe for cucumbers at this time of year! yum!

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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