A few months ago my favorite store announced a limited release of a Black Garlic Tamari Soy infused balsamic vinegar. I promptly went to the store for a taste and it quickly became one of my favorite products. The lovely umami flavor of soy paired with the tangy sweetness of balsamic and a light punch of garlic makes every mouthful interesting. I’ve used it in place of soy sauce in numerous dishes, from fried rice to scrambled eggs to this delightful Thai peanut salad I have here to share with you today.
In my never-ending love affair with my spiralizer, I recently meal-prepped a super easy, healthy, and delicious salad for my weekly lunches. With very little knife work required, the vegetable prep happens quickly instead of feeling like you are standing in the kitchen chopping for nine hours. The sauce comes together even faster, made easily in a blender or food processor. Chopping some peanuts are all you have to do by hand, and I promise that takes less than a minute.
Inspired in part by last year’s cashew zoodle salad, I wanted to experiment with a peanut-based version. Peanut is far and above my favorite flavor of nut, and pairing it with soy and spice is nearly always delightful. Olivelle’s introduction of this soy-like balsamic sealed the deal in working on this creation.
I opted to use peanut butter powder in the sauce because the oils already add plenty of fats, but you can certainly use regular peanut butter too. (Just start with half the amount to begin with as the peanut flavor often comes through much strong.) Complemented with tangy balsamic, nutty sesame oil, a hint of sweet maple, and the heat of crushed red pepper flakes, this sauce covers nearly all the taste profiles in every delicious bite. I made mine quite thick to blend nicely with all the water zoodles tend to release, but to use as a regular salad dressing you can thin it was additional water.
Crispy veggies and tangy dressing topped with crispy peanuts are a perfect summer side dish or entree. Round it out with steak, grilled chicken, or tofu, served either on top or alongside this tasty salad. As its sans lettuce this is a perfect meal prep option, and it keeps well in the fridge for up to a week with your dressing reserved in a separate container until ready to eat. It also lends itself well to additional garnishes, like mandarin orange, sesame seeds, scallions, or just a sprinkle of extra red pepper flakes.
Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad
2 medium zucchini
2 large carrots, peeled
2 medium bell peppers
1 medium red onion
1 small red cabbage
1 large cucumber
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
garnishes: mandarin, sesame seeds, scallion, red pepper flakes
optional: protein of choice (steak, chicken, tofu, chickpeas)
Thai Peanut Sauce
45g (1/3 cup) peanut butter powder1
60 mL (1/4 cup) (Toasted) sesame oil
60 mL (1/4 cup) water, to taste
30 mL (2 Tbsp) Black Garlic Tamari Balsamic Vinegar2
10 mL (2 tsp) maple syrup3
1/4 tsp (Roasted Garlic) salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- Wash and spiralize all veggies: 5mm for zucchini, 2mm for carrot, and the flat blade for the remaining veggies. (Or chop them all, if you don’t have a spiralizer.)
- Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Add extra red pepper flakes or water as desired, but remember the zucchini will release a lot of water and thin the sauce substantially.
- For meal prep: divide zucchini evenly among four 5-cup containers. Top each with 1/4th of the remaining veggies. Add 2 Tbsp chopped peanuts and 2-4 Tbsp sauce to separate small containers, and tuck them in with the veggies. Refrigerate until ready to eat, up to 1 week.
- To serve: layer the zucchini in a large serving dish, then top with remaining veggies. Add 1/2 cup dressing and toss until well coated. Taste and toss with additional dressing if you prefer a more generous coating.
- If desired, layer on protein of choice, then drizzle with a small amount of extra sauce.
- Top with crushed peanuts, and any other garnishes you like (mandarin orange, extra red pepper flakes, sesame seeds). Serve promptly.
1 You could also use regular peanut butter, but start with about 3 tablespoons and adjust after tasting.
2 If necessary, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce should be an acceptable substitute.
3 If you use a sweetened peanut butter, like Jif, start without syrup and adjust after tasting.