Chopped Thai Salad with Chicken & Peanut Vinaigrette

Yesterday, I had planned to make yet another plain old green salad with leftover roast chicken. (In an effort to cut down on oven time during the summer, I’ve been using this recipe.) We eat a ton of it. My little one is obsessed as in – I make roast chicken two times a week – obsessed with it. Needless to say, I am so sick of roast chicken right now.

So, I started thinking about what I could make instead of another green salad with roast chicken while still utilizing the leftovers. I thought about making another Asian Chopped Salad which was delicious, but I just made it the other week. (I’ve been on a serious Asian kick lately, everything I’ve been craving is Asian!) Then, my mind sort of wandered thru Asia and then back to salads and then finally, it landed on som tum.

Som tum is a green papaya salad from Thailand. It’s crunchy, citrusy, salty, sweet, sour, and hot all at the same time. It’s the perfect salad and might be my favorite salad of all time. My husband and I actually spent a week in Thailand as part of our honeymoon and my only request was that we eat this dish at least once every day during our visit. That’s it.

So after salivating over som tum and accepting the fact that I was definitely not going to have it for dinner that evening, I started thinking about other delicious Thai dishes and this salad popped up. At that moment, dinner was settled. I was making a Thai chopped salad with roasted chicken and a peanut vinaigrette.

The only problem was that I’m not a fan of the Thai peanut dressings available at the grocery store. I have never been happy with any them – they’re either too sweet or too salty or  too acidic for my liking. Something was always off, so I attempted to make my own.I sort of just tasted my way there, but was very pleased with the final result. (I loved it, actually.)

Anyways, this is what I did:

First, prepare the dressing. Throw all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk together. Adjust the seasoning to your taste and let it sit and sort of marinate while you get the salad together. Then, slice and chop your cabbage. I prefer Napa cabbage, but Trader Joe’s doesn’t carry Napa cabbage which of course I knew, but temporarily forgot with this last minute change to dinner plans. I was in a bit of a rush as my toddler’s lunch time was fast approaching so, I went with purple cabbage since I thought it would look prettier than the alternative:


In full disclosure, I hate cleaning cabbage. My sous chef (aka my husband) typically takes care of preparing it for me, but it was a weekday and he was at work. So, I actually bought this:


Then, throw in the spinach (I like spinach because it’s so mild, but still has more nutritional value than say, romaine lettuce, but use whatever mild greens you like), scallions, red bell pepper, and carrots:


Next, add the chopped chicken (I used roast chicken, but grilled chicken would also work), peanuts, and some cilantro (obviously, skip it if you’re not a fan):


Now toss it all together:


Finally, add the dressing, toss a little bit more, and dinner is served! You could also garnish with more chopped peanuts and cilantro:


I honestly didn’t think my husband would enjoy this salad as much as I knew I would. He’s not the biggest fan of nuts in foods, but he gobbled it up!

If you’re looking for something different, I hope you give this a try.


This salad generously served 2 as a main course

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
  • 3tbsp peanut butter, ideally no salt
  • 2tbsp soy sauce
  • 2tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1tbsp white sugar or honey
  • 1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice of one lime
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes

For the salad:

  • 1 small cabbage (I prefer Napa cabbage, but liked how the purple cabbage worked in the salad for the color), shredded
  • 4-5 generous handfuls of baby spinach or other mild green, rough chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/3c carrots, chopped
  • 1/4c unsalted peanuts, chopped plus more for garnish
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, rough chopped plus more for garnish