Thai Peanut Chicken Ramen Noodle Salad
If you haven’t been able to tell, I have a ramen thing. I ate a ton of that cheap, 99 cent packets with the dried noodles and flavoring packets when I was a kid. It was my favorite lunch. And I could cook it myself. What can I say, I am a kid of the 90’s. Now that we’ve all come to realize how unhealthy those little flavored packets are (how can so much sodium possibly be shoved into one tiny packet!?), I’ve turned to homemade ramen. Well, actually that took a long time, before I became a little more adventurous in the kitchen. I just didn’t eat ramen for a really long time. But now, I have several different ramen dishes on the blog. (These are well worth making with a million times less sodium, and a million times more flavor.) So, when I came across this recipe for a ramen salad, I knew I couldn’t pass it by.
For organizational purposes, I menu plan every week before I grocery shop. I even have a chalk board that lives in our dining room with the week’s nightly menu listed out. That helps me keep organized and prepared, so I can look at in the morning and see if there is any prep work I need to do during the day, and it allows the kids to see what is planned for that night. Not that that stops them from asking me 5 times a day what’s for dinner… I generally stick to the menu and the nights planned, but not always. I like to be fairly flexible and sometimes things get moved around due to scheduling changes, or sometimes they don’t get made at all. Because *sometimes* I don’t feel like cooking dinner. Gasp! I collect recipes during the week via instagram primarily, cookbooks or other blogs. I bookmark them and make a mental note to put them on the next weeks menu. Or weeks to come, depending on how excited I am about the particular recipe. This recipe was one that I put on next week’s menu immediately. I was pretty darn excited to say the least.
This is a great, healthy summer version of ramen. Minus the warm broth. So like I said, perfect for summer and those hot days. It’s fresh, bright and satisfying. It can be eaten warm or cold. I broiled the chicken since our grill’s performance is less than satisfactory right now. You can use your favorite cold noodle, you don’t have to stick to ramen. You could use soba noodles, spaghetti or even rice noodles. Crispy romaine is shredded and served as a base for crunchy cucumbers (I used our favorite kind, english cucumbers), shredded carrots, chopped cilantro and basil, creamy avocado and peanuts. Oh, and of course the chicken! All this beautifulness is topped with a creamy, slightly spicy peanut sauce. This makes a great salad for leftovers for the week. I stored it all together, except the peanuts, avocado and dressing, which I sprinkled/drizzled over top when I was ready to eat. And I thought it was excellent cold. So prep this Sunday night if you want excellent lunches all week.
Thai Peanut Chicken Ramen Noodle Salad
Yield: about 6 servings
For the salad
1 lb. chicken tenders or thin chicken breasts
10 ounces ramen noodles, or your favorite noodle
3 heads romaine lettuce, shredded
4 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
3 scallions, chopped
2 English cucumbers, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 avocado, sliced
1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
For the Peanut Sauce
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste
juice of 1 lime
Preheat the broiler or grill. Grill the chicken or broil until completely cooked through and a thermometer inserted in the center reads 180ºF. Set aside to cool slightly. Once cooled, shred or chop into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cool water.
In a large serving bowl, combine the lettuce, carrots, scallions, cucumbers, cilantro, and basil. Stir in the chicken and noodles.
To make the peanut sauce, combine all ingredients in a glass jar or measuring cup and shake or whisk until completely smooth. Dish the salad into individual serving bowls. Drizzle the salad dressing over the bowls, then top with peanuts and avocado slices. Serve immediately.
Source: Adapted from Half Baked Harvest