The Thai Chicken Salad from Panera Bread Company is one of my favorite salads. It is fantastic. It has everything I look for in a great meal. Crunchy, a little heat, a little sweet, sour, tangy and lots of savory. The dressing, the peanut drizzle… nom, nom. I would say, I love this salad, so much so that I endeavored to make it at home. Low and behold, it wasn’t that hard and mine might, just might, even be better.
One thing I had to add was spicy pickled carrots. I know, I just know the carrots in Panera’s salad have a bunch of heat and sour. Another thing I tweaked was using jarred roasted red peppers, it was easier and added a little bit more sour. I also changed the vinaigrette to add more heat and the peanut sauce drizzle I used chocolate almond butter. Yep, you heard that correct, chocolate almond butter instead of peanut butter. I’m telling you, don’t knock it.
For my palette, this was perfect. It had all that I loved from Panera’s version but more of what I like. More heat, more sour. Even my happy mistakes like the chocolate almond butter and sambal oelek turned out fantastic. I can’t recommend this salad enough. Make it your own and let me know how you tweaked it in the comments.
Ingredients for Spicy Pickled Carrot
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, cut in quarters
- 4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
Ingredients for Vinaigrette
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp sambal oelek
- 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for Peanut Drizzle Sauce
- 1/2 cup chocolate almond butter (or creamy peanut butter)
- 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp sriracha
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for Salad
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 large head bibb lettuce, chopped
- 1 cup, edamame, thawed
- 3 roasted red pepper, drained and sliced in thin strips
- 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
- 1 cup fried rice noodles (the crunchy kind in the can
- Canola oil
- 3 green onions, sliced thin
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- Salt and pepper
This can be done ahead of time.
- Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat with rice wine vinegar, water, salt, carrots and jalapeno.
- Bring the mixture to a boil then remove from the heat.
- Allow to cool and place the mixture into a sealable jar (Mason Jar). Top off with water if need be and place in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- First make the vinaigrette. Add the rice wine vinegar, sambal oelek, sesame oil, powdered garlic in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Next the peanut drizzle sauce. Add the chocolate almond butter (or regular peanut butter), hoisin, rice wine vinegar, sriracha, soy sauce, water in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the canola oil and continue whisking. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large skillet or grill pan to just past medium. Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper (we’ve already added a lot of sodium). Cook the chicken to desired doneness and allow to rest. Once cooled, slice in strips or chunks.
- Start your ovens broiler. Toss the thawed edamame lightly with canola and place on a sheet pan. Broil until slightly charred. Set aside.
- To plate, add the chopped bibb lettuce to a large plate. Distribute the carrots, edamame and roasted red peppers evenly. Lightly dress with the viniagrette. Add the fried rice noodles. Top with the chicken, drizzle with the peanut sauce and garnish with the chopped peanuts, cilantro and green onions.