This baked popcorn chicken salad bowl contains tender chicken bites that have been breaded in seasoned wheat germ. After baking the chicken to crisp perfection, I’ve piled it high atop a bowl of baby greens and mustardy microgreens. Fresh radish slices, sunflower seeds, tangy feta, and a zingy mustard vinaigrette are the finishing touches on this salad that sings spring.
I’m featuring all things popcorn on the site this week! Ok, ok… baked popcorn chicken actually involves no popcorn at all.
However, the crispy little pieces of chicken approximate the size of popcorn, so that counts, right? (I’ve decided it does. :p)
If you are looking for recipes that contain actual popcorn seeds, stay tuned. I’ve got some fun and unique popcorn-related recipes coming at you over the next few days! I’m really looking forward to sharing these.
But back to the baked popcorn chicken salad bowl. Typically, popcorn chicken is battered or breaded and then fried. I’ve cut the need for added oils here by breading and baking the chicken instead.
Even if you don’t make the salad, the baked popcorn chicken is good served with your favorite dip for dinner. Add some veggies on the side, and you’ve got yourself a healthier version of takeout popcorn chicken. It’s a hit with kids who like to dip things!
Please don’t misunderstand me, though. What you are getting is not a copycat recipe of the popcorn chicken at KFC or another purveyor of chicken. I’m hoping that you and your family find this recipe to be delicious in its own right.
But wait a minute, the wheat germ used in this recipe is a product of refining grains!
I know the header of the site currently reads “no refined grains.” Am I lying by using a recipe with wheat germ? Here’s the deal…
Whole grains contain the three edible parts of a grain (bran, endosperm, and germ). Refined grains are missing parts of the whole grain.
In the case of white flour and white rice, only the endosperm of the grain remains. Both the germ and the bran have been removed.
This is a bummer because the germ and bran are where lots of the nutrition in the grain are. For example, the germ contains some protein, minerals, and many of the B vitamins.
So, while it’s true that wheat germ is not a whole grain, I would consider it a better choice than white flour. Whole grain flour contains additional nutrition from the bran, making it an even better option than wheat germ, IMVHO.
In short, wheat germ and wheat bran are the “good stuff” that is removed from white flour. I would consider these fine to include in the diet on occasion, though I’m sure whole food purists would disagree.
At the time of this writing, we are in the middle of the coronavirus quarantine. While under other circumstances, I might make a trip to the store for some whole grain breadcrumbs, currently I’d rather use what I have.
And what I happened to have is a lot of wheat germ. I won a recipe contest last year for my Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Granola with Raspberries. They included a large bag of wheat germ in my prize package.
I feel so fortunate to have it because it makes the perfect stand-in for breading. I’ll definitely be using it for this purpose again in the future!
Let’s talk microgreens!
I used a microgreens mix in this salad of various spicy red and green mustard leaves. If you cannot find microgreens in your local stores, I highly recommend growing your own. They grow fast- it takes only about two weeks for them to get to maturity.
I am finding that growing my own sprouts and microgreens is an easy way to keep a fresh supply of greens in the house. It’s hugely advantageous that sprouts and microgreens can be grown year-round indoors.
I live in New England, where we have a truncated growing season. We’re just getting to the part of the year where I can start planting and growing lettuces outside.
Growing edible plants indoors keeps me from having to make lots of trips to the grocery store for fresh produce. Remember, we are trying to minimize store trips right now during the coronavirus outbreak. Fewer trips mean lessening my risk of exposure to the virus.
Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a wide selection of microgreen seeds to choose from. They are where I purchased my spicy microgreens mix.
Burpee is another source I often use for seeds and gardening supplies. They did not have mustard microgreens the last time I checked, but they have other options that may interest you.
But don’t stop with one planting; keep those greens growing!
The minute I cut my microgreens, I replant the pot with new seeds. At the same time, I also keep sprouts growing, as they only take one week from seed to edible plant. (Check out this post for easy directions on how to grow broccoli sprouts.)
In this way, I manage to keep a consistent supply of fresh greens in my house. It helps us to maintain a healthier diet, even when we can’t get to the store often. The greens not only add nutrients to our meals; they also taste great.
And honestly, what evokes spring in a meal better than the presence of young, freshly grown greens on the plate? I hope this salad delights your senses as it calls to mind the warm days to come!
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The calorie information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don’t sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let’s get cooking!
Baked Popcorn Chicken Salad Bowl
For the baked popcorn chicken:
- 1 lb. chicken breast strips, cut into small pieces (454 grams; I cut chicken tenders into thirds)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
- ½ cup wheat germ
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- cooking oil spray of choice
For the mustard vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon dried parsley
For the salads:
- 8 cups baby lettuce mix
- 1 cup spicy mustard microgreens (or other microgreens of choice)
- 4 Persian cucumbers, sliced
- 5 ounces roasted red peppers, sliced (142 grams; from a jar)
- 4 scallions, sliced
- 12 radishes, sliced (I used a multi-color radish mix)
- 4 ounces fat-free feta, crumbled (113 grams)
- 4 tablespoons sunflower seeds
To make the baked popcorn chicken:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Mist a baking tray with the cooking oil spray.
- Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk it.
- In a second bowl, stir together the wheat germ, flax, and all of the spices listed under "for the popcorn chicken."
- Instead of dipping the pieces of chicken individually, I dropped them all into the bowl with the egg and stirred thoroughly to coat them.
- Next, I drained the coated chicken pieces and stirred them into the bowl with the wheat germ. Each piece of chicken should be generously coated with the wheat germ mixture on all sides.
- Arrange the chicken pieces in a single (non-touching) layer on your baking tray. Lightly mist them with the cooking spray to help them crisp up.
- Bake the chicken for 20 minutes total, flipping them halfway through cooking time. While the chicken cooks, work on the rest of the salad.
To make the mustard vinaigrette:
- Put all of the "for the mustard vinaigrette" ingredients in a jar with a lid. Give the jar a good shake to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Distribute the vinaigette evenly between four salad dressing cups.
To assemble the salads:
- Get out four containers that you will use to hold the salads. Divide the baby lettuce mix evenly between the four containers.
- Top each salad container with ¼ each of the baked popcorn chicken, microgreens, cucumber, roasted red pepper, scallions, radish, feta, and sunflower seeds.
- Drizzle the salad with the vinaigrette when you are ready to eat. Enjoy!
If you try a recipe, it helps me out if you leave a rating in the comments below. (Five stars means you think it’s fantastic, and that makes me very happy.)
Thank you for dropping by. I appreciate it!