Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thai Peanut Noodle Salad

Because I took care of my St. Patty's Day green recipe quota last week with my Green Chocolate Chip Cookies, I'm all set for this week and allowed to make this thai recipe instead! I was supposed to have friends over for dinner last Friday but due to a second cold over a two week span, I had to cancel sadly. Rescheduled for last night, I was so excited to try out this recipe. A big thank you to Our Best Bites for the inspiration for this recipe, and to my friends for helping me chop all of the vegetables and for bringing some lovely wine!

Some things to note: This is a big recipe - there were just 3 of us and we easily had 2 or 3 portions left. We all agreed that this would be a good picnic recipe because the combination of cabbages would hold up to the sauce and not wilt over a period of time. There's a lot of ingredients here so don't be daunted - it just takes a bit of time to get everything chopped up. If you're pressed for time you can definitely make the dressing ahead of time so you don't have to worry about that part later.

Thai Peanut Noodle Salad
8 oz. linguini fini (a bit thinner than regular linguine) - we used about half of the box
3 cups shredded napa chinese cabbage
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
2 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup baby carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, halved and then sliced
1/3 cup red onion, very thinly sliced
1 chicken breast (marinated in a bit of OJ, soy  
                                                                                       sauce and garlic), grilled and sliced
                                                                                       1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, chopped a bit

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 cup peanut butter
Juice and zest from 1 lime
2 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 TB rice wine vinegar
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 TB minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup olive oil
Dash of salt and pepper
2 TB hot water
*If you like spicy flavors, the original recipe called for sriracha chili sauce

1. The morning before you're going to make this dish it might be helpful to take a large chicken breast out of the freezer and marinate it just to add a bit of flavor. You can really cook up this chicken at any point because it doesn't need to be added to the salad when it's hot. So feel free to do this step first - cook the chicken! And if you're like me, living in an apartment - just sear the chicken in a hot pan, with just a little of the marinating liquids, and you'll get a little of that grilled flavor.
2. The next step you can do ahead of time, as I mentioned above, is to make your peanut dressing. It's a lot of ingredients, but it's easy because all you have to do is throw everything together in a blender or food processor and pulse together until it's a smooth and creamy dressing! If it seems thick you can add another TB of water, but it shouldn't be too thin - think more like the consistency of a thick dressing rather than a vinaigrette.
3. And with that - you have 2 out of the 3 steps done!
4. The next part is probably the most time consuming - chopping all of the veggies. While you are getting your veggies ready you can also get your water boiling to get ready to cook your pasta. Bring the pot of water to a boil, add a bit of salt and once it's boiling, add your pasta. Once it's done, drain it and pour cold water over it - if you're not ready right then to add the pasta to the rest of the salad ingredients, add a bit of the dressing to the pasta and mix together so it's doesn't clump and stick together.
5. As you get your veggies chopped add them to a large serving bowl (that will be big enough to mix up everything once it's all done and needing to be mixed together). It doesn't really matter what order you add everything to the bowl, but definitely add the pasta last. When everything is done and ready to be mixed together - add the peanut dressing to the big bowl and get tossing! I didn't use all of the dressing so if you want to add half first and see if you need more, you might more easily avoid overdressing your salad.
6. All that's left is to serve and enjoy! The mixture of veggies here makes the dish look beautiful - you don't really have to have two colors of peppers, but it does make it prettier!

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