I’m not really a salad-for-a-meal kind of girl. I mean, I try to eat healthy and I do my best to make sure I’m eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, but when it comes to veggies, I prefer them cooked. You might hate me for writing this but I really hate Cesar salads. They are so boring. Romaine lettuce. Croutons. Parmesan. Yawn. Traditional house salads aren’t much better: lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, and some dressing. How predictable. My mouth is just not dancing when I have those salads. Even spinach, strawberry, and goat cheese salads are just okay to me these days. I mean, it’s not the like predictability of a spinach strawberry salad is evoking the familiarity of homemade mac n’ cheese for me. On the other hand, the “good” salads in my world, usually aren’t healthy. Cobb Salad? Yes please, but with all that blue cheese and bacon, maybe it’s worth it just to indulge in pizza?
I’m not always a Grinch when it comes to salads. Sometimes, I meet one that is awesome. The perfect combination of crunchy, crispy, sweet, savory, tangy, colorful, and satisfying. Last weekend, I had one of these salad encounters. AAAANNNNDD, it was a salad I made myself! I loved this salad because the cilantro gives it an unexpected kick, and even though I’m not normally a fan of water chestnuts, they give this salad an awesome crunch factor. And the colors, oh the colors. Just as many colors as a Cobb salad, but better for you!
What are your favorite ways to bring color and crunch to a salad?
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- 4-5 tablespoons all natural, creamy peanut butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon orange juice (would probably be great with lime juice too!)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger (I actually used the stuff that comes out of a tube—yes, I did. Don’t judge.)
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 6 cups of mixed mesclun greens
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 stalks green onions, chopped, green parts only
- 1 cup snap peas, cut into large pieces on a bias (I basically halved each of the peas)
- 1 small (8 oz.) can of mandarin oranges, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 small (4 oz.) can of water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. I like to have the pieces of shallot, but if you prefer a smoother dressing, you may process all ingredients in a food processor. Taste the dressing. Add honey for sweetner, more vinegar for tang. If the dressing is too thick, you can add water or orange juice, ½ teaspoon at a time until it’s the consistency you like.
- Toss all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl using just enough dressing to evenly coat the salad.
- Serve the remaining dressing on the side.