Friday, August 29, 2014

Foodie Friday: Thai Crunch Salad

Thai Crunch Salad

Have you ever been to California Pizza Kitchen? Ever tried their salads? They have one of my all time favorites. Even better that you can get it all over the country! (If you're going to Disneyland by way of SNA/John Wayne Orange County airport, they have one in the airport.) I've been craving a good salad, so I went on the hunt for a copycat recipe. Supposedly this is the official one from the cookbook you can buy at their restaurants.

The salad has crisp cabbage with vegetables, peanuts, and crispy wontons and rice sticks. It's tossed in a lime-cilantro dressing and drizzled with a Thai peanut sauce. At CPK, you can get it with/without avocado and chicken. 

The recipe has 3 parts to it- the lime-cilantro dressing, the peanut dressing, and the salad components. I made the dressings first, then let them chill in the fridge while I chopped the salad.

Lime Cilantro Dressing (makes 1 cup)

1/4 small red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons white vinegar [I used rice vinegar because it's what I had]
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup [I didn't have this, so I omitted it]
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

Place bell pepper and cilantro leaves in the work bowl of a food processor, then add remaining ingredients except for olive oil. Process until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. 
With food processor on, add olive oil in a thin stream and continue processing for 1 minute after all the oil has been added; there should be no oil on the surface. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week (whisk before using). 

It's a lot of ingredients, but well worth the effort.

In the food processor- super easy way to make homemade dressing!

Thai Peanut Dressing (makes ½ a cup)

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon (scant) cayenne pepper [I used ground ancho chili pepper, wasn't as spicy]
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon canola oil [omitted due to preferred consistency]

Whisk together peanut butter, vinegar, honey, water and soy sauce. Stir in sugar, salt, cayenne and red pepper flakes. Add oil and continue whisking until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to five days. Bring to room temperature and whisk before using. 

Easily whisked together. I used crunchy peanut butter. :)

Thai Crunch Salad
 (serves 4)

1 head Napa cabbage, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 small head red cabbage, cored and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
2 bunches scallions (green onions), thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 large English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled, cored and julienned
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked shelled edamame (soybeans)

*Note: I used regular cabbage and romaine lettuce because it's what I had on hand. I recommend using napa cabbage and you can add in romaine or iceberg lettuce. I also used a pre-cut stir fry bag of broccoli, carrots, and snow peas. I used a regular cucumber, and forgot to add the extra cilantro and edamame. I also included the rest of the red bell pepper from the lime cilantro dressing.

2 cups roasted peanuts
4 cups fried wonton strips, found near the salad dressings/croutons
2 cups crisp rice sticks [omitted because I didn't have time to fry them]
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch dice [optional, but I always include!]
1/2 cup Thai peanut dressing
1 cup lime-cilantro dressing

Place cabbages, carrots, scallions, cucumber, cilantro, edamame and peanuts in very large mixing bowl and toss to mix. 
Pour lime-cilantro dressing into bowl and toss to mix thoroughly. Gently toss in fried wonton strips. Divide salad among four, very large, chilled serving plates and top with crisp rice sticks. 
Sprinkle crisp rice sticks over top of each salad, then use a squeeze bottle or syrup dispenser to drizzle Thai peanut dressing over rice sticks. 
If serving the salads with avocado, distribute over the salads. Serve immediately.

*Note: you don't have to put the salad together in this order. I threw the veggies in a bowl, poured the dressings on it (less of the peanut one) and added my toppings. 

Chopped salad components. You can really tweak this to any kind of veggies you enjoy.

Thai Crunch Salad!

It was a very tasty salad, and one I'll definitely be making again- with the ingredients that I forgot to add. The lime cilantro dressing was pretty thin (probably the lack of corn syrup) and the peanut one lacked any spice (probably because I didn't have the right pepper). I'd still eat it the way I made it, but I'd be even more delicious with the correct ingredients.

Do you have a favorite copycat recipe from a restaurant?


  1. Replies
    1. This one's a bit spicy, but then again, I added more red pepper flakes. Mmm. :)