I grew up in a house where dinner always had to include meat. I don’t know if that’s a function of living in the Midwest or if it’s because that’s how my parents grew up. Once I went to college and started living on my own, I noticed I began to stray from this tradition. Meat was on the expensive side and besides, I didn’t feel like cooking it just for myself. Enter the “hearty salad” as I like to call it. I would head to the local supermarket salad bar and stock up on veggies and salads, making my meal a “bowl meal” before “bowl meals” were cool. As my palate has matured (or so I hope it has), I have found new ways to create vegetable bowl meals. This recipe for a Thai Salad Bowl is a delightful combination of fresh, crunchy vegetables and hearty quinoa. The dressing is slightly spicy and amazingly flavorful, which makes it even more satisfying.
The key to a good veggie bowl is filling it with ingredients that pack flavor and texture. A plain, leafy salad is boring. Once you add crunch, hearty whole grains, beans and herbs and spices, then you’ve got something! You’ve turned a simple salad into a meal. The great thing about veggie bowls is that you can make them from just about anything. In fact, you can even make them from leftovers. Experiment and try new flavors.
Food Safety Tip: You’re going to be handling quite a few fresh vegetables, which means you need to be meticulous when it comes to cleaning them. Use a scrubbing brush to get in the nooks and crannies of firm vegetables and give the lettuce a run through a salad spinner or a good soak if you aren’t buying a packaged, pre-washed brand.
Thai Salad Bowl with Curried Peanut Dressing
For the salad dressing:
- 1 tablespoon green curry paste
- ¼ cup natural peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro, lightly packed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons water
- Kosher salt, to taste
For the salad:
- 4 cups lettuce, washed and chopped (romaine or hearty baby lettuces work well)
- 2 cups shredded cabbage, washed
- 1 red bell pepper, washed, cored and thinly sliced
- 4 green onions, white and light green parts only, washed, thinly sliced
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup peanuts, roughly chopped
- 2 cups shredded carrots, washed
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- For the salad dressing: Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Note – alternatively, ingredients can be whisked together in a small bowl.
- To make the salad: Place the lettuce in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and the salad dressing and toss to coat.
- Alternatively, salad can be served in a large bowl or on a platter and dressing can be served on the side.