Thai Chicken Salad with Pea Shoots and Peanut Dressing
Pea shoots are a welcome seasonal addition in the spring. Mild, sweet and lightly crunchy with the nutrition of dark leafy greens, they are surprisingly versatile in the kitchen. They add a great texture to all types of salads, especially in those with grains, beans, chicken, pasta or potatoes. The Thai Chicken Salad recipe here with pea shoots and a light peanut dressing is one of my favorite uses. Stuff them into sandwiches or wraps or use them as a base for smoked bluefish, lobster or salmon. Consider the season, too, and match pea shoots with asparagus, eggs, and shiitake mushrooms. Locally on Martha's Vineyard, pea shoots are being grown in greenhouses, in fields and hydroponically. Look for them at Mermaid Farm in Chilmark, Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown, the Farm Hub at Thimble Farm (sold at Cronig' Market), and Ghost Island Farm in West Tisbury.
2 medium-sized split, bone-in chicken breasts (with skin), roasted and shredded (about 3 cups)
3 to 4 cups pea shoots, rinsed and spun dry in a salad spinner
1 cup red cabbage, sliced razor thin
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut lengthwise into quarters and sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded, (1/2 cup)*
1 or 2 cups snap or snow peas, strings removed, parboiled for 30 seconds and run under cold water to stop cooking
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
5 tablespoons peanut or olive oil
4 tablespoons water
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350˚ degrees. Rub split chicken breasts with a little olive oil and season on both sides with salt. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 40 – 45 minutes (depending on the size), until just cooked (160 degrees on a meat thermometer). When chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone and shred by hand into thin strips. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
- To make the dressing, in a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until well mixed. Pre-test with a bit of the chicken or salad, and make any adjustments – does it need to be sweeter, or saltier, etc. It should taste delicious.
- Place the shredded chicken in a bowl and mix with the dressing. Then add the pea shoots, red cabbage, cucumber, carrots and snow peas (or snap peas) and mix lightly to coat. (Mixing the dressing with chicken first keeps the vegetables looking bright for a nicer presentation.) Alternately, you can serve the salad looking pristine and pass the dressing on the side. Top with chopped peanuts, if using. The chicken and salad components can be prepared a day ahead and combined just before serving.
- LeRoux at Home sells a julienne vegetable peeler which is perfect for cutting a carrot into beautiful julienne strips, especially if you don’t have a food processor with a shredding attachment.