Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n Shiitake Salad. Gardein inspired.

This Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n Shiitake Salad is topped with one of my favorite new frozen Gardein products: Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n. Mandarin-orange-glazed, sticky-sweet, crispy-tender vegan protein bites.

I've added sweet mandarin oranges, perky chopped scallions, cilantro and tender savoy cabbage tossed in a light, sassy-sweet rice vinegar dressing. The cool crunchy greens are studded with warm salt & pepper shiitake mushrooms. Fine black pepper, colorful carrots and tamari rice crackers accent. And really, these Gardein Crispy Chick'n bits? So good! Must try for vegans and vegan-skeptics!..

Love/Hate Relationship: Fake Meat. I am always a bit apprehensive about posting recipes featuring a main ingredient of "fake meat" - no matter how delicious is tastes.

First there was the Tofurky for veg-eaters one day a year. And from there, it seems the range of fake meat products covers anything and everything. From vegan shrimp to vegan sausage - vegan ribs to vegan duck. But really, "vegan duck" just sounds so weird and contradicting of the entire meaning of veganism. I think. I discuss my trepidation regarding "fake meat" products in this post: Fake Meat Defending or Defeating the Point?

But I'm putting away my "hate" side for this recipe post. One bite of these crispy bites and I was inspired...

Really, with vegan food (no matter what it is called) tasting so delicious and easy to make - it would be a shame not to embrace it, right? My fave "fake meat" products include: Field Roast Spicy Chipotle Sausage, Boca Spicy Chick'n Patties, Amy's Veggie "Burgers" and Gardein's Crispy Tenders, Crispy Chick'n and Spicy Buffalo Wings.

I guess it is the names that bother me most. Chick'n obviously infers the word "chicken." And to me, I'd rather be enjoying a chicken's company and giving his feather a few kind strokes, rather than enjoying a chicken for dinner.

Instead of "fake meat" I'll just refer to these products as creative presentations of my favorite veggie protein sources from legumes to grains. :)

Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n Shiitake Salad
vegan, serves 2-3

1/2 cup light Asian dressing (recipe below)
6 cups savoy cabbage (or romaine lettuce), roughly chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 cup salt and pepper shiitakes (recipe below)
1/2 cup mandarin oranges, drained (canned or fresh works)
Gardein Crispy Chick'n bits (recipe below)

fine black pepper
5-10 tamari rice crackers
optional garnish: crushed peanuts

Salt/Pepper Shiitakes:
2 Tbsp safflower oil
1/4 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp fine black pepper
1 1/2 cups shiitakes, thinly sliced
1 tsp tamari

Light Asian Dressing:
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil (opt'l)
2 tsp tamari (or soy sauce)
extra sweet: add in a splash of maple or agave
spicy: cayenne to taste
for a drier, less sweet dressing: sub rice vinegar with apple cider vinegar

1 bag Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick'n
1/4 cup safflower oil


1. Prep your salad veggies and add to large mixing bowl.
2. Add the dressing ingredients to a cup and whisk briskly. Pour over top greens and toss well. Layer salad greens on serving plates or bowls.
3. Mushrooms: heat the safflower oil in a saute pan. Wait until oil is hot. Add in the mushrooms. Saute until tender and slightly crisp on edges. During last minute of cooking, add in the salt/pepper and tamari. Remove shrooms from pan. Set aside.
4. In same pan, add 2-3 Tbsp safflower oil. Wait until very hot. Cook the Gardein product as instructed on package - adding sauce last once chick'n is mostly cooked. Turn off heat, set aside.
5. Add mandarins and rice crackers to salad. Top with the shiitakes and Gardein crispy chick'n bits. Fine pepper to taste. Crush peanuts are optional.

Serve while lettuce is still chilled and the shrooms and chick'n is still warm

Note: Even though I am raving about this product, it is NOT a "paid post" for Gardein. (All sponsored reviews - and those are very rare for me - will contain clear labeling of this). I'm just a huge fan of this product and highly recommend it to anyone who loves the idea of a vegan crispy "chick'n" mandarin salad. This product is ah-mazing. Really, the next day after tast-testing, I went back to Whole Foods and bought two more bags.
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