Suggested song to play while cooking: Sailing to Nowhere by Broken Bells
Recent events have reminded me of a show I loved when I was younger, and in fact still do now. It was at the same time silly and playful, but also deep and emotional. And it was anime. Doesn’t get much better than that. Of course, I’m talking about Avatar, The Last Airbender. And no, I don’t mean the horrible live action movie that accomplished its goal of destroying my dreams and childhood. I’m talking about the animated series with the goofball hero, the strong morals of friendship and equality, and the pretty cool bending fights. If you haven’t watched it, you should. binge watch it, and get ready for a wonderfully endearing and emotional roller coaster ride.
If you don’t know the show, let me just explain a couple of the basics. Set in an alternate universe, this world is populated by people who have the ability to bend (manipulate and control) the elements: water, fire, earth, and air. Not everyone has a bending ability (it seems to be random/genetic if you do), and only the Avatar has mastery over all the elements. There is so much more to this show than that, but for the sake of this article, that’s about what you need to know, and that the world is divided into four nations, after the four elements: Fire Nation, Water Tribe, Air Nomads, and Earth Kingdom.
Watching the show, I always wondered which nation I would belong to/what element I would bend. Despite their bad rep, being a part of the Fire Nation seemed really badass. But being a water bender I would be able to heal—though I still have nightmares about the haunting blood bending episode. The Earth Kingdom would be an amazing way to truly be connected with nature, but then of course there’s the Air Nomads, given a little favor since the main character is the last air bender. Flying on gliders would definitely be the best perk in that nation.
Thinking on all this, I came up with a new short series of articles for you all, one to test the waters of each nation, so to speak, and make a recipe for each.
And so without further ado, here is the first, a creation inspired by the Water Tribe. What else could I make for this than a crisp, clean, cool salad? Hey, if you use iceberg lettuce it’s practically water anyway. I found this recipe in that good old chicken magazine that I pulled my Thai Chicken recipe from.
Water Tribe Mexican BLT Chicken Salad
1 ripe avocado, halved, seeded, and peeled
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 ½ tablespoons fresh limejuice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 ½ cups chopped cooked chicken
¼ cup sliced green onion
¼ cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
3 cups shredded lettuce (I used a green mix—baby spinach, swiss chard, tat soi, and arugula. While I only recognized two of those, I decided it just sounded right.)
2 tomatoes, sliced
4 strips bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
Cilantro leaves (optional)
First cook the bacon until nice and crisp. I like my bacon so crispy I practically burn it, but I resisted going that far this time. Set aside.
Pour most of the bacon grease out, but not all! Put those delicious bacon greases to use and cook your chicken in it. I’m not a fan of raw onion, so when the chicken was nearly done I threw my chopped onions in there too and cooked them for a few minutes as well.
In a medium bowl, coarsely mash avocado with a fork. Add mayonnaise, limejuice, cumin, salt, and pepper; stir to combine.
Add cooked chicken (chopped or shredded), green onion, and the ¼ cup cilantro; stir gently to combine. If needed, cover and chill until ready to serve (up to four hours).
To serve, divide shredded lettuce among four dinner plates (this recipe automatically assumes you’ll be sharing it). Top with tomato slices, chicken salad, bacon and, if desired, additional cilantro. Serve with toast points. I accompanied mine with garlic bread; melted some butter with garlic and basil, brushed it over some bread pieces and broiled them for a few minutes.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 397 cal., 25g fat, 90mg chol., 561mg sodium, 14g carbo., 4g fiber, 31g Pro.
Results: pretty damn delicious. The avocado and lime worked really well together—I went a little overboard on the lime though so be careful there. Next time I may use ranch instead of mayonnaise, to give it a little zing. Bacon was crispy, avocado mix was fresh, and the arugula topped it off with a wonderful peppery taste. All in all, Water Tribe is making a very compelling argument.
Post and Photos by Shannon Moloney. Recipe adapted from “Chicken Dinners” published by Better Homes and Gardens; Special Interest Publications.