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Crunchy, zingy, tasty and good for you too.  Now, how good is that?  Before lock-down, I had invited six friends over for a Thai style lunch.  I love Asian cooking but it is not something I often do.  A good friend of mine, Sally Sprinkle, had recently returned from a vacation in Thailand and had brought me back some spices and pastes and I was chomping at the bit to start experimenting with some new ideas. The main course was decided – that was the easy part- we would make a classic Shrimp Pad Thai and a Green Thai chicken curry with coconut rice.  But, what to serve as a starter?  I wanted something light and fresh and full of flavour and preferably vegetarian.  I tried out a few ideas and settled on a very simple vegetable salad which I tossed in a Thai dressing.  It hit the spot perfectly and was thoroughly enjoyed by all, so much so that there was not one peanut or bean sprout left on the serving platter.

If you wanted to serve this by itself you could simply add some cooked shrimp or chicken or even some chilled egg noodles.  If you do not want to add peanut butter to the dressing, simply leave it out and the tasty will still be as delicious, more citrusy but just as good.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For the Salad

  • 3 cups finely sliced Chinese or Savoy or Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup sprouts
  • 1 finely sliced green and/or red pepper
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves or arugula or both
  • 1 finely sliced, seeded red chilli
  • 1 small English cucumber, halved lengthwise, gutted and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded or finely sliced carrots (optional)
  • 1 cup whole sugar snap peas or edamame beans (optional)
  • 2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil, mint and cilantro
  • For the Thai Peanut Dressing

    • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter (use unsweetened)
    • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
    • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
    • 2 tablespoons sesame seed oil
    • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 1 garlic clove, crushed
    • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
    • 1 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely sliced or ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • Handful of fresh cilantro and basil, chopped

Handful of toasted cashew nuts and/or peanuts

Method:

Place all the fresh vegetables and herbs in a large bowl and toss to combine
In a small glass bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients and whisk well, this can be done using a sticker or immersion blender
Dress the salad with the dressing just before serving
Sprinkle on some toasted cashew nuts and/or peanuts
Bon Appetit!