Thai Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Last weekend, our church had a two day conference that was simply outstanding.  After it was over, I left feeling like a better version of myself:  humbled, energized, uplifted, happy and ready to conquer the challenges life flings at me.  We all need that in our lives every so often, don’t we?  Sometimes we don’t realize how far from our goals we have strayed until we take the time to step aside from the daily madness and re-evaluate exactly where we are.

I had been too busy to completely recognize I wasn’t where I wanted to be.  Course correction time.

After our conference was over on Sunday evening, I served this gorgeous salad for dinner instead of the normal Sunday fare of roast, potatoes, rolls and dessert.  In general, serving a salad as a main dish doesn’t go over very well with the Jones kiddos, but when you replace their most sacred meal of the week with one….boy, oh boy!  You should have seen the looks and heard the grumblings.  However, after actually eating the salad, the response was….(no lie, this is a direct quote)….”If salads always tasted as good as this one, I would eat them all the time!”

This main dish salad was addictive!  The last of it was eaten for lunch two days ago and I can’t stop thinking about it.  Salty, savory, sweet, sour, spicy and completely satisfying.  Honestly, salads can’t get much better than this one.  The fact that it is healthy doesn’t even come into your mind because you are too busy shoving it in your pie hole as fast as you can.
My only suggestion for this recipe is to please, please, please don’t try to substitute regular cabbage for the napa cabbage.  If you have never tried napa cabbage, you are really missing out because it is the perfect balance between cabbage and romaine lettuce.  It is like the two mated and had the perfect little leafy baby.  And don’t worry, if I can get it at my store here in the middle of nowhere Minnesota, I’m sure your grocery store carries it as well.


Thai Chicken Salad
(recipe adapted from Taste and Tell)
serves 8

Chicken marinade
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 Tb rice vinegar
1/4 C sugar or 2 Tb Truvia
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced
dash of salt and pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – about 2 1/2 pounds total

Salad
2 hearts of romaine, chopped
1/2 large head of napa cabbage, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 C salted peanuts

Dressing
1/4 C rice vinegar
1/4 C Thai sweet red chili sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp sugar or Truvia
pinch of salt and pepper

Peanut Sauce
1/4 C natural peanut butter
2 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb rice vinegar
1 Tb Thai sweet red chili sauce
2 Tb water

1.  In a ziplock bag, combine all the ingredients for the chicken marinade.  Mush it all around, then place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours to marinade.  Cook the chicken either on a hot grill, 6-8 minutes a side or in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.  Allow it to cool a bit, then chop up all the chicken into bite sized pieces.
2.  Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, except for the peanuts, then add the chicken.  Combine all the dressing ingredients then pour over the salad.  Toss until the salad is evenly coated with the dressing.  Dish out the individual servings of the salad.
3.  Stir together the ingredients for the peanut sauce in a small bowl.  If the sauce is too thick to drizzle, add a bit more water.  Generously drizzle the peanut sauce over each serving of salad then top with the peanuts.

Comments

  1. says

    Yum!! That even looks good to this pregnant lady who thinks NOTHING looks good right now, except maybe chocolate :-) When I start attempting to make meals again this is top of the list.

  2. Tracy says

    I just made this for lunch and it was delicious! Love the tangy spice of the chili and the freshness of the cilantro and the saltiness of the peanut sauce. I can’t wait to make it for my boyfriend… He’s going to love it!

  3. Anonymous says

    This was amazing. A new staple in our house for sure! I substituted eggplant for the chicken and after marinating it, I breaded and pan fried it in a little oil. All the flavors were so great together. Best salad I’ve had in ages.

  4. says

    I just made this last night and HOLY YUM! It was heavenly. Unfortunately, I didn’t have cilantro which I thought could really add flavor but it was excellent even without! I’ll be making this time and time again. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Anonymous says

    I made this for dinner last night and just evoked the leftovers for lunch. I used the crockpot for the chicken breast and browned them in a little sesame oil just before serving. It was fabulous- Thanks for the great recipe!

  6. says

    This was the best salad I have ever made at home. Probably beats out the majority of salads I’ve eaten at restaurants. Thank you for sharing the deliciousness.

  7. says

    This looks amazing! I do have a question, though–I have Asian garlic chili sauce, and I have Thai red curry paste, but I don’t know if I have seen Thai sweet red chili sauce. Would either of the things I have work as a substitute? I’m excited to try this! Also, will another vinegar work? I am kind of cheap ;)

  8. says

    David and Leah – Definitely do not use the red curry paste! The garlic chili sauce might work, but I can’t guarantee what your results will be like. The sweet red chili sauce is quite sweet, yet spicy and it really needs those flavors. As far as the vinegar, you could try substituting a different sweet vinegar, like an apple cider vinegar, but again, the flavors will be different and I can’t guarantee what the end result will be. As always, I strongly encourage you to stick the recipe as written.

  9. Gilly says

    How spicy is spicy? I am a wuss and can’t handle much in terms of spice. You say it’s a sweet chili sauce but is it overpowering with spice? What would you compare it to to give me an idea of the heat? Thanks.

  10. Anonymous says

    This is the best salad I have ever made, and quite possibly eaten. It is amazing!!! I have had it four times this week, and see no reason to slow down. It is sweet, tangy, spicy and fresh. I’m actually eating right now!! It is so good, and deserves a food award. Thanks so much for posting, it’s a treasure. Kristina

  11. says

    Kristina- so glad you loved it!! I made it this week as well and my daughter got so many comments from the lunch ladies when she brought the leftovers for lunch at school.

  12. Julie says

    This recipe sounds very similar to the Thai Chicken Salad from Panera Bread, my favorite salad! The one from Panera adds fresh edamame beans which is really yummy! Thanks for the recipe

    • Carole says

      I’ve never tried that salad from Panera before but I think edamame would be amazing in this salad. Thanks for the suggestion Julie! -Carole

  13. marie says

    This salad was one of the best things I’ve made in a long time! I never feel compelled to leave reviews on food blogs, but this was the exception because the recipe was unbelievably good. Thanks for posting it!

    • Carole says

      Thanks so much Marie! I appreciate you taking the time to come back and let me know how it went! -Carole

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