Thai Peanut Noodle Salad w/Chicken
Adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine
My cooking class last week was the first in a series of “lunchbox madness” classes. There was a lot of interest in salads and a request for non-dairy, so my mind turned to an Asian inspired chicken salad. I am giving you the full version here that I made for the class, with homemade peanut sauce and dressing, but there are “cheats” you can use to shorten/simplify the recipe.
The Thai peanut sauce is one of my all-time favorite sauces and it’s so versatile and healthy. It’s full of heart-healthy fats and protein, it’s totally gluten free and dairy free and it’s amazing. You can use it as the sauce for a Thai Chicken Pizza, toss it with noodles, shrimp & veggies for a quick Thai dinner, drizzle over chicken & greens for a salad, dip your veggies in it. It’s addictive, scrumptious, delightful, satisfying. It takes only a couple minutes to make … but all that said, if you feel like you don’t have time to make it, you can also buy Thai peanut sauce in a bottle. I won’t judge. I know what it’s like to be too crazy busy to take a few minutes to put together a good homemade sauce. I still do that, sometimes.
I used my Chile Lime chicken on the salad, but you can use any chopped cooked chicken you like. When I’m really crunched for time, I have been known to use chopped rotisserie chicken or chicken nuggets on top of my salads. Just 4 nuggets provides quite enough chicken for a single meal-sized salad. So again, I want to remind you: it’s totally ok to take shortcuts!
You can also skip the dressing and use the peanut sauce as the dressing, but you’re going to miss out on some of the amazing flavor of the salad. The dressing is so simple … just throw the ingredients in a jar and shake! It’s a fabulous dressing to have on hand, too–it can totally double as a marinade for meat, chicken or seafood too.
If you need this salad to be gluten free, use rice noodles in place of whole wheat noodles. The peanut sauce and the dressing are already gluten free, so the noodles would be the only possible gluten offender.
- 1 15-oz. can of light coconut milk
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup red Thai-style curry paste
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon white or rice vinegar
- 1 - 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 - 3 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or Sriracha (optional)
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons canola oil
- 3 Tablespoons honey
- 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
- 1 teaspoon stone ground or Chinese mustard
- 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- Chopped chicken
- Whole wheat noodles
- Romaine or butter lettuce and/or baby spinach
- Chopped green onion
- Fresh cilantro leaves
- Matchstick carrots
- Fresh orange slices (or mandarin oranges)
- Chopped roasted peanuts
- Whisk together all the Peanut sauce ingredients in a bowl (or blend briefly in a blender or food processor to mix).
- Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar or bottle and shake well to blend.
- Cook the noodles. Toss the noodles with some of the peanut sauce to coat. Save any leftover sauce in a covered container in the fridge for future use.
- To make the salad: make a bed of greens, top with the saucy noodles, chopped chicken, peanuts, green onion, carrots, & cilantro. Drizzle with a bit of dressing.
Make this as a salad in a jar by putting a Tablespoon or two of the dressing on bottom of a wide mouth quart jar. Add the oranges, carrots, then top with noodles, then fill with lettuce & green onions on top. Cover and refrigerate. Put the peanuts in a small container to sprinkle on at serving time.
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