With Thanksgiving looming closer and closer I was going to devote this week to recipes that would be good for the holiday but I just had to share this amazing salad with you! It's definitely one of my new favorites 'cause it incorporates everything I love into one ginormous bowl! There's delicious marinated chicken, all sorts of crunchy veggies including edamame and red cabbage and not one, but two dressings--a lightly spicy vinaigrette and a creamy, sort of sweet peanut dressing. Everyone loved this and it's definitely going to make a regular appearance on the dinner rotation!
When my kids were little there was no way I could make just a salad for dinner and not see looks of utter horror. Now, however, they actually want them and we walk around patting ourselves on the shoulder smugly, feeling like the greatest parents of all time, LOL! There's a pretty long list of ingredients for this salad, but don't let that stop you because you can make both dressings ahead of time and if you're like me and often cook dinner at 7:00 a.m. because there's just not time later, you can chop up all the veggies and have them ready to toss together later. Also, feel free to include or omit anything here. For example, the recipe calls for chicken but if you want to keep it vegetarian or substitute cooked steak or shrimp that would be great too and if say, you don't like peppers, just leave them out or add something else instead. No need to be rigid here, guys!
If you're including the chicken you just make a simple marinade and let the chicken breasts soak in it for at least a couple of hours and preferably overnight. Then you grill it and when it's cool, you cut it into bite-sized pieces and it's good to go. The rest of the salad, other than the dressings which come together really easily, just involves a lot of chopping. This is what I made and left covered in the fridge--
Then right before dinner, I just poured on the dressings and tossed it. It's such an interesting combination of flavors and textures. I wish I had it right now! And maybe it's good that I took a little detour from the whole holiday thing anyway. What with all the heavier foods and desserts we'll be indulging in over the coming weeks, this healthy salad may just help to balance things out. Y'know what? I deserve another pat on the back! And so will you if you make this amazing salad!!
Chopped Thai Salad
Serves 6 as a main course
Prep Time: 30 minutes
For the Chicken:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (use 1 lime if using fresh)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts (I used closer to 2 lbs cause that was what was in package but you could use more or less depending on how much chicken you like in your salad)
For the Vinaigrette:
- 4 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons sweet Thai chili sauce (I used Trader Joe's brand)
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- salt and pepper to taste
For the Peanut Dressing
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Thai sweet chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons very hot water, (possibly more)
For the Salad:
- 4 cups chopped romaine
- 2 cups chopped napa cabbage
- 1 cup chopped red cabbage
- 1 cup cucumber, cut in small chunks
- 1 cup edamame
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 cup chopped bell pepper (I used red)
- 1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
- Peanuts for topping
1. Place the chicken in a ziploc bag. Whisk together the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lime juice, salt and pepper and pour over the chicken in the bag. Let it sit in the fridge for at least half an hour and preferably overnight. Remove from the marinade and grill on the BBQ about 6-8 minutes per side. Let cool and cut into little pieces.
2. To make the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together. Refrigerate until ready to use. You can easily make this a few days ahead.
3. To make the peanut dressing, whisk together all the ingredients, including the hot water until smooth and the dressing is thin enough to pour or drizzle over salad. Add additional hot water by the tablespoonful if necessary to achieve the desired consistency.
4. In a very large bowl, combine all the veggies. Add the chicken and peanuts. Pour on the vinaigrette and toss well. Serve the salad with the peanut dressing on the side and let everyone spoon it on top of their own individual salad.
Note: Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, http://www.melskitchencafe.com/chopped-thai-crunch-salad/