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Peanut Butter Chicken Salad

Green, leafy, and kinda slimy if it’s bruised, old, cooked or you’ve chewed it – spinach and I, we go way back.  We’ve had a pretty tumultuous relationship.  For 34 years spinach was on my forbidden foods list, along with melon and coconut.  Oh, and {hot} spicy stuff.  My inventory of hated foods has always been very short.  There are things that I generally won’t choose if I have an option – celery, radish, tomato-based sauces and wholemeal anything – but the no-go’s are very few and far between.  Spinach was one of them.

I was introduced to spinach by my mother, before I was conscious of anything other than the need to eat, sleep and poop.  She will claim that I liked it.  My first recollection of spinach was dark green and slimy with the taste of old socks.  I promise you, mother, it was not good.  I grew up thinking that spinach was square, because the only way I ever saw it was in a small, square boxes in the frozen food section.  I still have flashbacks to those days when I caught sight of the spinach box crammed into our tiny freezer.  In my mother’s defence, she didn’t feed it to us very often, but when she did, inevitably a battle royale ensued.  Not eating every last cell of food put in front of you was not an option in our house.  Even if it was something that you hated – it was all going down the hatch before you left the table.  Including heated frozen spinach.  The slimy texture disgusted me.  The taste was an anathema to my taste buds.

My mother seemed to believe that forcing me to eat something that I hated was character building.  Or something – which TO THIS DAY I have never understood.  I mean seriously, I ate everything else that was ever put in front of me.  What was the deal with force feeding me spinach??  Could there not be *one thing* I was excused from munching on?  Nope.  So, on spinach days it was a given: my time at the table would stretch on for hours until the last slimy spoonful had slid down my gullet; and another wedge had been put between my mother and I.  “It’s good for you.”  My mother would snap.  I am still waiting for an explanation of why making me eat a food I detested was in any way good for me. While I am at it, can anyone explain to me why parents continue to believe that saying, “Because it’s good for you”, will cause children to be motivated to eat something they find entirely distasteful.  Who cares about how good something is for you when you feel physically sick shoving the stuff down?  If my body is busily staging a revolution, I generally go with it not being a good thing.  Down with spinach!

Gosh.  Am I starting to sound a little bitter?  I am was!  I say “was” because a few weeks after I moved to the US, I was invited to Daniel’s Broiler in Bellevue to sample their lunch menu.  The chef had made me small portions of just about everything on the menu, one of which was Creamed Spinach.  Having escaped from my mother’s grasp on my tender spinach-hating taste buds some 13 years earlier by moving to Australia, I had not eaten spinach for an awfully long time.  I am still not sure what came over me, but I heard myself saying to the Catering Director, “Let me try the Creamed Spinach, please.”  I took just one mouthful before uttering, “Could I have a whole side of that, please?”  And so began my love affair with spinach.

So inspired was I by Daniel’s Creamed Spinach I scoured recipe books to find the perfect recipe, determined that I was going to eat that stuff every week – just not at Daniel’s Broiler.  Shortly thereafter I bought my first bag of fresh spinach.  In my life.  I’ve bought an awful lot of fresh spinach since that day.  Coming to America was a spinach revelation to me.  I’d never eaten raw spinach before landing here, and I am not convinced I even knew what spinach looked like, other than dark green and square.  The irony is I now eat more spinach than any other food.  I easily get through 3 lbs a week.  Easily.  Spinach for President!

So when the author of The Calorie Myth called me up this week and said, “Hey Carrie, can you cook us up something at your Friday Night Dinner this week that uses spinach as a base?”, I said, “Your wish is my command, Jonathan.  Consider it done.”  The poor guy is enduring hours trapped in a studio with me recording podcasts every week.  It was the least I could do.

Given that last week was particularly mad in the NOT. ENOUGH. TIME department, I was also planning on a one dish meal instead of the usual pattern of a protein dish plus two sides, or salad and side, or two salads.  I had reached a one dish limit.  On top of that I wanted to take my new mandoline for a test drive.  That required watching a training CD first.  Who knew a super-fancy slicer required a training CD?  I’m glad I watched it.

With all that in mind I came up with Peanut Butter Chicken Salad.

Peanut Butter Chicken Salad

  • Served on a bed of spinach?  Check.
  • One dish meal?  Check
  • Used fandangled new slicer?  Check.
  • Didn’t slice off any body parts?  Check.
  • Happy Friday Night Dinner guests?  Check.
  • Full belly?  Check.
  • Happy mouth?  Check.
  • SANE? Check.

Peanut Butter Chicken Salad on spinach Peanut Butter Chicken Salad



















Peanut Butter Chicken Salad on spinach Peanut Butter Chicken Salad



















This salad is an absolute snap to prepare.  Especially if you have a mandoline to make light work of slicing the carrot and cucumber.  The dressing is also whipped up in a New York minute.  The only thing that takes any time is sautéing the chicken strips.  If you’re organized, you can sauté chicken strips ahead of time and freeze, or keep in the ‘fridge, just grabbing the amount you need as you toss the salad.  If you froze them you’ll need to defrost them before the tossing bit.  Unless you have a fondness for watery salad.

Peanut Butter Chicken Salad on spinach

Becky & The Schoenster loved this salad.  They thought it would make a great work-day lunch.  We thought that it would not be so good the next day, but, since it is the next day and I finished off last night’s dinner for lunch, I can confirm that it is as crunchy as satisfying the next day as it was 10 minutes after I made it.  The dressing loses its body after a night in the ‘fridge, but apart from that, it was all tasty, crispy goodness.

A fine way to get a ton of veggies inside you without you even realizing it – coat them in peanut butter, add chicken and pile it all on a bed of spinach.  Yum.

Are you happy now, mother?

Peanut Butter Chicken Salad
Author: Carrie Brown |
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 lb / 900g chicken breasts or thighs, sliced into small strips
  • 1 x 20 oz / 560g can of unsweetened pineapple chunks
  • 4 medium carrots, sliced or julienned into thin sticks
  • 1 large English cucumber, sliced or julienned into thin sticks
  • 8 spring (green) onions, sliced into long diagonal pieces
  • 1 lb / 450g bean sprouts, rinsed and drained well
  • 6 oz / 170g roasted, salted peanuts
  • 4 TBSP Crunchy Peanut Butter
  • 8 TBSP pineapple juice (from the can of chunks)
  • 4 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 tsp. soy sauce
  • Ground pepper
  • 4 handfuls fresh baby spinach
  1. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet and saute the chicken strips until they are golden brown.
  2. Drain chicken strips on kitchen towel (paper) and leave to cool.
  3. Drain the juice from the pineapple and reserve.
  4. Place pineapple chunks in a large bowl with the carrot and cucumber sticks, onions, and bean sprouts.
  5. Roughly chop 4 oz of the peanuts and add to the bowl of vegetables.
  6. In a small bowl whisk the peanut butter with the pineapple juice and soy sauce.
  7. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking well until completely incorporated.
  8. Season with pepper.
  9. Pour the peanut sauce into the bowl with the vegetables and add the cold chicken strips.
  10. Toss all ingredients together until everything is well coated in the sauce.
  11. Place a handful of spinach on each plate and spoon the chicken and vegetable mixture on top.
  12. Sprinkle the remaining 2 oz of peanuts over the salad as garnish.


Peanut Butter Chicken Salad






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  • ShellyLooking forward to trying this.ReplyCancel

  • BeckyWho knew PB would be fablous on a S-A-L-A-D?! Loved this so much, we went out and bought the ingredients the VERY NEXT DAY! Very tasty and filling. This salad is quickly becoming a staple in our home :)ReplyCancel

  • VictoriaI was so convinced you were going to recreate the creamed spinach recipe from Daniel’s! Please do! I absolutely love that stuff.
    However, this recipe also looks very delicious! Cheers!ReplyCancel

  • alisonAnother winner Carrie lovely and refreshing thanks.ReplyCancel

  • carrieI love this salad! It’s even good the next day, which is a score for me, being single. Thanks for the comment love, Alison. It’s great to get feedback!ReplyCancel

  • Green Smoothie – Lemon Blueberry Cream » Carrie Brown | Marmalade and Mileposts[…] make me think, “Oooooh!  How delicious!  I want kale and I want it now!”  Much like spinach, I do not enjoy eating cooked kale.  AT ALL.  However, because I am deeply concerned for your […]ReplyCancel

  • Lee MarshallCarrie,

    I’m not a fan of pineapple, have you tried oranges and do you think they’d work as well?



    • carrieHi Lee – I have not tried this with oranges. I somehow don’t think they would work as well with peanut butter, so I would leave them out. Off the top of my head I cannot think of a substitute that is shouting out to me. Sorry!ReplyCancel

  • EllenTHANK YOU CARRIE!!!! You know that I’ve been craving chicken salad. What a great new twist and I can’t wait to try it. :)ReplyCancel

    • carrieLet me know what you think, Ellen! I love this salad – hope you do too!ReplyCancel

  • ShannonS-C-O-R-E!!!! Thank you, Carrie! Hubby loved his SANE dinner! and leftovers for lunch tomorrow! This salad Rocks! Can’t wait to try your other recipes!

    i want to thank you and Jonathan for doing the podcast! i’ve been listening straight through from the beginning for the last two weeks and telling hubby about y’all! and how funny you are! We love it!

    We changed our diet back in February, starting low carb, transitioning to a paleo/primal type diet, and now i’m learning even more! it feels like i’ve been studying nutrition for all of 2013 and people like you make it fun :)ReplyCancel

    • carrieShannon, thank you SO MUCH for all the podcast love!!! We are thrilled that you love what we do and it is helping you :-)ReplyCancel

  • JanOn your podcast with Johnathan someone wanted this salad spiced up. My suggestion to you is try some Thai Siraccha sauce in the dressing. Thai curries are also good but they usually have to be sautéed.

    It’s just a thought!ReplyCancel

  • JanelleI made this for dinner last night, but since I’m trying to encourage my family to adopt SANE eating, I made it more to their liking – as a HOT dish. It was fabulous!!! I subbed zucchini for the cucumber and sauteed the chicken, then the veggies (including the bean sprouts, which are “safer” cooked, anyway). I used coconut oil to cook the chicken, and then a little of the pineapple juice and water for the veggies. I whisked the sauce together and then added it toward the end of sauteing the veggies, along with the pineapple chunks. This was a SERIOUSLY good stir-fry and I will definitely be making it again!ReplyCancel

  • Baked Creamed Spinach » Carrie Brown | Life in the SANE lane[…] written about my dodgy history with spinach before.  Given my early hatred of the green stuff, that I even contemplated creating a SANE […]ReplyCancel

  • BrendaOh yum! Made this for dinner last night, and even though I couldn’t find bean sprouts at that 4 different stores I went to, it was delicious! Thank you!!!ReplyCancel

  • Suethis looks fabulous! I can’t wait to make it!!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle SayebrookJust wanted to tell you that, personally, this is still one of my most favorite salads, even after several years of eating it. I’m making it tonight. I also use the idea of pineapple juice and peanut butter to make a substitute peanut sauce on other dishes. Best idea EVER, Carrie, for this Peanut Sauce lover. Thanks for your amazing creativity.ReplyCancel