If you’ve got a California Pizza Kitchen anywhere in your vicinity I highly recommend going there immediately and ordering the Thai Crunch Salad. Every time we go, I scour the menu thinking I’m going to order something different, but almost every single time I end up ordering this salad. It calls my name. It talks to me in my dreams. It is heaven on a plate.
I thought it was about time I try to come up with something similar to satiate my cravings in between visits.
The CPK version has two dressings, a lime cilantro vinaigrette and a Thai peanut dressing. The idea of creating two salad dressings for one salad was a little overwhelming to me so I came up with a spicy peanut vinaigrette that I think incorporates the best of both. I’ve added Romaine lettuce which is not in the original, but I like the addition of the dark greens combined with coleslaw mix. It makes for a slightly more substantial salad.
So here’s how ya do it…
For the dressing you will need: creamy peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce, minced garlic, crushed red pepper, seasoned rice vinegar, vegetable oil, sesame oil, fresh lime, and a little water.
For the salad you will need: Romaine lettuce, 3 color cole slaw mix, cilantro, shelled edamame, green onions, red bell pepper, a rotisserie chicken, avocado, roasted, unsalted peanuts, and some dried rice stick noodles – more on those in a bit.
We’ll start with the Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette. Place all the ingredients for the dressing in the bowl of your food processor and give it a whirl for about 2 minutes.
Let it go until it has emulsified into a nice smooth consistency.
The dressing can be made ahead to save time. Just transfer it to any airtight container and refrigerate. I like these little mason jars for this kind of thing. Just give it a good shake or stir before pouring over the prepared salad.
Time to prepare the rice stick noodles. This salad would still be very good without rice sticks but they add a nice crunch and they’re kinda fun to make. Heat a good amount of oil in a large frying pan. The oil needs to get very hot but do not allow it to smoke.
Drop in the rice sticks and watch them go POOF! It happens quickly so be ready to scoop them out with a slotted spoon to some paper towels to drain.
Now on to the salad. It’s important to chop the Romaine into small pieces. Really go at it and give it a good chop. A key element to this salad is that everything is chopped into small pieces so you get a little bit of everything in each bite. Rinse and drain it well or just place it in a handy, dandy salad spinner and give it a spin.
Transfer the Romaine, cole slaw mix, cilantro, edamame, green onions, red bell pepper, and chicken to a large serving bowl and give it a toss.
Add the prepared rice sticks, breaking them up into small pieces as you add them to the salad. Toss to combine. Add about 3/4 of the dressing and once again, toss the salad to distribute the dressing throughout.
Add the avocado and peanuts. Drizzle remaining dressing over the top of the salad.
I may never leave the house again.
Thai Chicken Salad
Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 2 ounces dried rice stick noodles, optional
- vegetable oil to prepare rice sticks
- 2 cups Romaine lettuce, finely chopped
- 1/2 (16 ounce) package 3 color cole slaw mix
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cups rotisserie chicken meat, chopped
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts
Place all ingredients for the Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette in the bowl of your food processor. Process for about 2 minutes, or till emulsified and smooth. Set aside, or if making ahead, transfer to an air tight container and refrigerate.
Prepare rice sticks according to package directions and set aside.
In a large serving bowl mix together Romaine, coleslaw mix, cilantro, edamame, green onion, red bell pepper, and rotisserie chicken. Toss well to combine. Add prepared rice stick noodles, breaking into small pieces as you add them. Drizzle about 3/4 of the refrigerated peanut dressing over the salad and toss well to distribute throughout. Add avocado and peanuts and toss lightly. Drizzle remaining dressing over the top.