RECIPE: Thai Chicken and Quinoa Salad with Pea Shoots and Peanut Dressing

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Since the pea shoots are delicate, I usually pass the dressing at the table and let guests spoon over. Variations abound: noodles or grains such as quinoa for vegetarians or different market vegetables, such as asparagus, radishes, red peppers, spring onions, fresh mint or basil. Add a little spice to the dressing, if desired, with sriracha or sweet chili sauce. Look for pea shoots at most local farm markets. Serves 6.

Ingredients

2 medium-sized split, bone-in chicken breasts (with skin), roasted and shredded (about 3 cups)

1/2 cup quinoa

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)

Peanut Dressing

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

Directions

  1. 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.
  2. Rinse the quinoa with a fine mesh strainer. Add to a small saucepan with 3/4 cup of water and good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat to low and cover. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or whenever water is absorbed and the quinoa is transparent. Remove from heat, covered for 5 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and let cool.
  3. 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. 
  4. Place the shredded chicken in a bowl with the quinoa, pea shoots, red cabbage, cucumber, carrots and snow peas (or snap peas). 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. 

*Try using a julienne vegetable peeler good for cutting a carrot into beautiful julienne strips, especially if you don’t have a food processor with a shredding attachment.

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Catherine Walthers
Catherine Walthers is a freelance writer and author of four cookbooks. “Now that I’ve learned to grow my own microgreens, my goal for 2021 is not to buy another plastic laundry or dish detergent container, thanks in part to my discovery of GoGo Refill in Portland, Maine.”

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