I woke up to distant pops and mini-explosions. July 4th has arrived. I’ll call this summer good already. Unlike most early summers in Seattle this one has brought us sunny skies and summer temperatures way before expected. Good weather is never a guarantee until after July 4th and I’ve been here a few summers when we waited way too long. So here’s a cool crunchy salad with my new favorite Asian-inspired dressing.
This is another salad-as-a-meal for me and you can easily add some brown rice noodles to the bottom of the bowl if you do rice, or maybe some other grain-free noodle. I like the thin brown rice noodles from Thai Kitchen.
On a side note, my furry boy loves all the vegetable scraps that come from making salads like this one. As a young puppy I taught him to have a soft mouth when taking food from human hands and it has paid off handsomely for him. He gently takes the stubs of cabbage, leftover chunks of carrots, and so on, but his favorite is the cucumber ends and skins. He doesn’t seem to like lettuce or softer cabbage leaves. I think it’s all about the crunch for him. Me too.
I’ve added one of my grilling marinades for Asian-style chicken but really any style or type of chicken will work in this salad. You can easily use leftover shredded roasted chicken or other lightly seasoned chicken because the dressing will take the flavors in another direction. I shred the roasted chicken between my fingers for a great texture. I can see this salad being great with grilled shrimp, blackened salmon, or other source of protein.
This recipe was inspired by the crunchy salad over at Pinch of Yum.
Thai Chicken SaladUpdate 12/14/13: These days I dial down the strength of flavors in the dressing by reducing the soy and omitting the garlic. Also, you can use any vegetables that are seasonally on hand. To me it’s all about the dressing. You can store this salad in the refrigerator for a few days and pull it out at a moment’s notice. Just dress it right before you’re ready to eat it so it stays fresh and crunchy and doesn’t become soggy sitting in dressing. I store the dressing in a separate container at room temperature and give it a shake before pouring it on individual salad bowls. You can also sprinkle some sliced toasted almonds or roasted peanuts right before eating or serving it. If you don’t eat nuts you can use a seed butter such as sunflower seed or pumpkin seed butter. To make the dressing thicker, add another 1/4 cup of almond butter.
Grilled Ginger Chicken
- 2 pounds (1 kg) chicken breasts (or leftover chicken or roast chicken, shredded)
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon of honey or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari sauce (or coconut aminos or 1/2 teaspoon salt)
- Slice the chicken into strips that will fit across your grill. You can also to pan-fry the chicken.
- Add the chicken strips to a bowl, add the remaining ingredients to the chicken and marinate for at least 10 minutes. These can also be left in the refrigerator until you’re ready to grill.
- Warm a grill to a medium heat, about 350°F (175°C).
- Place the chicken on the grill and cook on each side for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
- Cool for a few minutes and then dice up for the salad, or store it in the refrigerator for later.
Thai “Peanut” DressingI use almond butter here but feel free to use peanut butter or other nut or seed butter. I stay with one Thai chili because they’re quite potent but if you’re a heat lover add 2 or even 3. If you don’t have Thai chilies use a few drops of hot sesame oil or a pinch or so of red pepper flakes.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 or 2 two Thai bird’s eye chilies (or 1/8 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes)
- 1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or coconut aminos, or 1/2 teaspoon salt)
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (I use brown rice vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup (60 g) unsalted roasted creamy almond butter
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend well. You can also blend by hand with a whisk but you’ll want to crush the chili separately and then add it to the dressing. Store sealed at room temperature for a week or so.
Makes 1 cup
- 1 large head (6 cups) Nappa or green cabbage, sliced into thin shreds, or shredded in a food processor
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup of Thai basil, chopped
- 4 large carrots, peeled and julienned into thin strips (or use a food processor)
- 2 red bell peppers (or orange or yellow), chopped or sliced into thin strips
- 1 cup green onions (about 4 onions)
- ½ cup chopped almonds or peanuts
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and blend with a large fork and spoon.
- Serve individual portions and top with Thai “peanut” dressing (above).
- Store covered in the refrigerator for a few days.