Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pad Thai Salad

With the exception of Ethiopian food, I love ethnic food. Indian food can sometimes be a little spicy for my tastebuds but naan makes it so much better and I have fond memories of Chinese food Sunday dinners and learning to use chopsticks. And Thai food was my go-to when I lived in Connecticut where the Thai restaurant in town had Wednesday happy hours with amazing sangria and half-off appetizers.

Even with all of this experience, I still find myself daunted when looking at a menu. It's uncharted territory for the most part and I don't want to order something I won't enjoy. This is a trap. This is how you end up only getting one dish at restaurants ever and miss out on something equally delicious. For Thai food, my go-to is Pad Thai. I find that every restaurant makes it slightly different but inevitably it's delicious rice noodles with a Thai sauce and chicken.

Well, this is the green and American-ized version of Pad Thai in the form of a salad. My friend Lisa (of Lisa's salad) found this recipe online after falling in love with Whole Foods' version. Not one to go to Whole Foods or pay $10 for a salad often, I found this recipe to be as healthy as it was delicious. As with most things, the secret is in the sauce.

I altered this a bit from the original based on my vegetable preference but you chop kale into edible size pieces (wash the salad first, Martha lectured me recently on that point) and add your desired vegetables. For me, this included chopped carrots and peppers but you could also add spaghetti squash instead. I used a food processor to get small pieces of vegetable in every bite without slaving over the cutting board. Unless you think cilantro tastes like soap (I think it tastes refreshing), add some cilantro and a can of chickpeas to the mix. Lastly, chopped cashews add some more crunch and salt. Really mix everything in there so you get a little bit of everything in every bite.

Now, for the dressing, it's unsurprisingly peanut butter based. I'm a huge fan of cold sesame noodles and when I was a camp counselor, we made the campfire version with just peanut butter and soysauce melted together. This dressing is very similar with peanut butter, sriacha sauce, water and sesame oil. As I learned from making spicy Thai noodles, sesame oil is the key. All of these are shaken together vigorously in a jar or salad dressing bottle. This dressing is very thick so it's best applied with a spoon to your salad.

Depending on how spicy you like things, add more sriacha sauce as needed. The salad overall definitely needs to dress for success, by itself it's just rabbit food but with the dressing, it's a Thai masterpiece. You can add some grilled chicken for protein if you like but you can also keep it veggie friendly!



  • Kale, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro 
  • 2-3 bell peppers, chopped
  • 3-4 carrots, chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of cashews or peanuts, chopped
  • Grilled chicken (optional)
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha (add more if you like more kick)
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger 
1) Combine the cleaned and chopped kale, cilantro, peppers, carrots and chickpeas together in a bowl.
2) Toss the vegetables until they are well mixed. 
3) Using a nut chopper or food processor, chop cashews or peanuts into small pieces. Add to the salad. 
4) In a mason jar or salad dressing bottle, combined the peanut butter, water, oil, syrup, sriracha and ginger. Shake vigorously until combined. 
5) Dress the salad and mix. Enjoy a healthy lunch all week long!

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