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.
After a quick Google search, I came across a recipe that I based mine on. So hat tip to Cheerios & Lattes for their Panera’s Thai Chopped Chicken Salad post.
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
Directions for Spicy Pickled Carrots
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.
I was in the mood for Asian food and the pork tenderloin looked good that day (and was on sale), so I made ginger marinated pork tenderloin. I have made this before starting from a base ginger-marinated pork recipe from Gourmet magazine.
I was feeling in a healthy mood so I wanted some rice to accompany the pork and jasmine rice sounded nice. You’ll see below this is an Asian influenced rice, but the idea came from a local Persian restaurant called Pomegranate on Main (a favorite lunch and dinner spot). They have this amazing basmati rice with lima beans, light, citrus-y, awesome. Well, Jen doesn’t like lima beans and this was after all an Asian style meal so I came up with Jasmine edamame rice.
On the pork recipe, I don’t really do much varying. I added a little more garlic and ginger (Jen and I love garlic and ginger). I only cooked my tenderloin to 145 degrees and let it get to 155 with carry over cooking as it rested. I am acutely aware of how easily pork can become tough and I much prefer a little pink then dryness. I also add a little less brown sugar which I might normally omit entirely but it gives the pork a really nice caramelization and helps thicken the sauce. Speaking of the sauce, WOW! I don’t normally strain my sauces but in the case make sure you do, it ends up shiny and perfect. Also, I reduced my sauce for probably 30 minutes, longer then the recipe calls for.
On the rice, you pretty much follow the recipe of a box of jasmine rice. You could use regular rice and omit the coconut milk, but I was craving both. Make sure your mint is fresh, the dry stuff won’t work here. I also recommend fresh lemon. Start with one lemon taste it, then add more for a more citrus-y taste. Finally, I would definetly season with salt and pepper, it was a little bland without it. Enjoy!
- 1 2/3 cups chicken broth (13 1/2 ounces)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons finely grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 (3/4 pound) pork tenderloin
- 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- I package uncooked jasmine rice
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cups frozen edamame
- juice from 1-2 lemons
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped mint
- salt & pepper to taste
- Whisk together 2/3 cup broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, tomato paste, ginger, garlic, and vinegar and pour into a large sealable plastic bag. Add tenderloin and seal bag, then marinate, chilled, turning bag over occasionally, 2 hours.
- Bring tenderloin to room temperature, about 1 hour.
- Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.
- Pat tenderloin dry and reserve marinade. Heat oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown tenderloin on all sides, turning with tongs, about 3 minutes total. Transfer skillet to oven and roast pork until thermometer inserted diagonally into center of meat registers 155°F, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 10 minutes.
- While meat is roasting, pour marinade through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan and boil until reduced to about 1/3 cup, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in remaining cup broth and bring sauce to a simmer. Serve slices of tenderloin with sauce.
- Cook the rice per directions except replace 1 1/4 cups of the water with coconut milk. A few minutes before the rice is done mix in the frozen edamame. Just before serving, drop the fresh mint and lemon juice in and fluff the rice. Taste the rice and season with salt and pepper.