I was a school lunch girl. Of course, that brought my cool status (if I had any to begin with) down several notches. By high school, I’d clued in to that fact and ducked out to happier lunch events, like fries and frosties at the park. But my elementary school days were filled with chicken-fried meat surprise and soggy corn dogs on slightly wet plastic lunchroom trays. I watched my lunch calendar religiously for the pizza and peanut butter square days. Those were epic. Or at least edible.
Because of this, when I became a mom, I vowed not to put my kids through that humiliating and barely edible torture. And so, day after day, week after week, month after month, I made sack lunches. Moms who make lunches understand that September sack lunches are very different from April sack lunches.
In September, I made pesto chicken wraps, Greek pitas, veggie spring rolls, little bundles of freshly cut veggies and fruit, dips and spreads and sauces, and always, homemade cookies. So much variety, all wrapped up nice and neat, tucked in an insulated bag with a cute napkin on which I had written a little love note. By April, it’s all pb&j or bagels: the easiest lunches on the planet. Plain napkin. Maybe a cookie…if you’re lucky. Moms are tired by April.
And so, I have learned to appreciate a really, really good sandwich. This Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Spicy Coleslaw makes the cut. It would definitely be a September sandwich.
The chicken’s got a lovely lemony tang and the jalapeño in the slaw gives the whole thing a slight bite. Drizzle leftover dressing all over to kick it up a notch. I know it’s summer, so we won’t mention the “S” word any more. (*School) Let’s just call this a June sandwich, even better because it’s eaten with no stress, no homework, no tests to think about. Just pure, unadulterated summer joy.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich with Spicy Coleslaw! Welcome to summer.
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken tenders
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 8-10 cloves garlic
- Zest and juice of two lemons
- 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 head green cabbage
- 1 cup grated carrot
- 1/2 small red onion
- 1/2 cup dill pickles
- 1 jalapeno
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise. (We like to make our own or use Primal Kitchen or Chosen Foods brand)
- 3 Tbsp. water
- 3 Tbsp. dill pickle juice
- 1-1 1/2 Tbsp. cajun seasoning
- Pepper to taste
- 4-6 Bacci rolls or other round, hard rolls
- Tomato slices
- Red onion rings
- Avocado slices
- Place chicken in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Mince garlic and add to the bowl.
- Add zest and juice of lemons, chopped parsley and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Cover and marinate 30-60 minutes in the fridge.
- After it has marinated, lift chicken pieces from marinade and grill over medium heat until chicken is cooked through, about 5-7 minutes each side. (Discard marinade.)
- Cut cabbage into very thin ribbons. Place in a large bowl. Add grated carrots.
- Chop red onion, pickles and jalapeño and add to cabbage.
- Mix mayonnaise, water, pickle juice, cajun seasoning and pepper in a jar. Shake vigorously to combine.
- Pour half over cabbage mixture and toss until well-incorporated. Keep the other half of dressing to spoon over sandwiches. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To assemble, place chicken pieces, coleslaw and other fillings on rolls and add more dressing as desired.
*Most of the prep time here is for marinating the chicken. These sandwiches come together really quickly.
*You can grill the chicken and make the slaw a day ahead, if desired.
*This chicken is awesome by itself as a main course.