Why can’t cabbage be the base for a salad?
When I think about creating a new green salad, I usually begin with romaine, kale, or some other version of lettuce. As I considered making a Thai style salad, my mind went to cabbage. Don’t ask me why, but I was excited to create a salad that was totally different than any I’ve made. Yes, I’ve used cabbage in salads, but they tend to become side dishes that are almost exclusively some version of slaw. This would be my first entrée salad featuring cabbage.
Working with cabbage is different than working with most lettuces. It’s not as tender, so it benefits from having time to mingle with the dressing. For me the problem in this wasn’t the mingle time, the problem is that I’m a 99% of the time dressing on the side person. I don’t want to have some caloric salad dressing coating my delicious greens. How could I solve this problem while making a delicious salad?
The answer came to me quickly. Two of the flavors I most associate with Thai cooking are peanut butter and spiciness. Of course, peanut butter is high in calorie and fats, which doesn’t play to my sensibilities, but peanut butter powder is not. That’s an ingredient that is always in my pantry, used in smoothies and frozen yogurt. Now it could be transformed into a dressing. Healthy dressing for cabbage problem solved!
In addition to being healthy, this salad also works well for those with a busy schedule. Cook the chicken in your crockpot while you’re at work on day 1. Come home, shred the chicken, and let it cool. Make the salad, make the dressing, combine, and place in the refrigerator. When you arrive home on day 2, dinner is ready and waiting.
If you have the ability to make the salad the day that you’ll serve it, that’s fine as well. I’d recommend giving the salad at least 4 hours to chill in the refrigerator. That will allow the flavors to meld and the cabbage to soften ever so slightly. For those of you that are worried about the crunch factor, don’t be concerned! A sprinkling of chopped peanuts adds crunch and salt to round out the dish.
Although summer doesn’t start officially for two more weeks, more than likely you’ve already experienced some warm days. Keep this recipe handy for a delicious way to fill up while cooling down.
- 1 lb. boneless chicken breasts
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 3 Tb. hot sauce of choice
- ½ medium head cabbage
- 2 medium carrots, peeled
- 1 cup diced cucumber, peeled
- 3 scallions, green & white parts diced
- 3 Tb. peanut butter powder
- 3 Tb. rice vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
- 3 Tb. lime juice
- 2 Tb. soy sauce
- 1 Tb. olive oil
- 1 Tb. sugar
- TO SERVE
- ¼ cup salted peanuts, finely chopped
- Hot sauce
- Place chicken, broth, and hot sauce in small crockpot.
- Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6 hours.
- Shred and allow to cool.
- Using a box grater or food processor, shred cabbage and carrots.
- Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add cucumber, scallions, and shredded chicken.
- Toss well.
- In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter powder, rice vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice, soy sauce, olive oil, and sugar.
- Pour dressing over salad, and toss to combine.
- Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- To serve, top with a teaspoon or two of peanuts and season with hot sauce to taste.