Chopped Thai Chicken Salad with Skinny Peanut Dressing (meal prep)
Learn how to an easy chopped Thai chicken salad with skinny peanut dressing that’s perfect to meal prep and enjoy all week long for lunches!
Let me lay it out for you.
We’re quickly approaching the warmer months. It may still seem like a foreign concept to our friends in the north. I see you still wrapping up in layers and winter coats. But when you live in Texas, tomorrow it could be warm enough here to teeter-totter our way into summer for good, just like that. Which then means, we’re running short on time to get ‘summer bod 2018’ together.
It’s already the middle of April, and my body needs me to get it back in check. You know, cut back on the amount of Detroit-style pizza I consumed in the name of recipe testing this past week and maybe stop day-dreaming about the chicken tetrazzini bake I made us a few weeks ago. We know the drill. We’ve got this. More fruits, veggies, lean protein. Then just when you think you’re gonna lose your mind if you eat another vegetable, you dare to pick it up, shove it in your mouth, and pray that it’s all worth it in the end.
Can you tell four months of mostly clean eating is taking its toll on me? This gal needs a vacation from her diet.
And just when I thought I was throwing in the towel for a bit, this little miracle chopped Thai chicken salad put me back in my place. It makes me not hate lunch time all over again. 😍
It’s true. At one point in the last four months, I thought I was going to cluck like a chicken from all the ‘lean protein’ I’d been consuming in the name of healthy food. I developed a major aversion to chicken overnight. Then slowly it crept it’s way back into my diet when beans, fish, and shrimp just wouldn’t do it for me anymore. At this point, I think I’ve loved, hated, loved, hated chicken so much I’ve lost count. Sick of chicken or sick of the thought of it? Not gonna lie, maybe a little bit of both.
But one thing that does works is making sure there’s a flavorful dressing or sauce that kinda takes away the ‘chickeny-ness’ when I’m serving it up in a meal. And this skinny peanut lime dressing delivers. The key to stretching this dressing further is blending on the ingredients together in a food processor. It helps thin out the dressing which helps cover a whole lot more of salad surface area leaving you feeling like you splurged when really, it’s just a trick of the mind. The dressing is a cross between satay sauce, spring roll dipping sauce and all the other 905,329 versions of peanut dressings I’ve shared with you guys already. That first bite. Crunchy veggies, sweet mangoes, tender chicken tossed with a sweet/sour/ salty peanut dressing and who can be mad at that?
You’ll be alright Marz; you’ll be alright.
I feel the need to mention that though chicken isn’t my all-time favorite protein choice at the moment, it does do something for me in this Thai chicken salad. Possibly because I don’t taste the chicken with all the flavor bomb ingredients, we’re eating, but hey, I’ll take it. I also want to mention that you can positively leave the chicken out if you’re more of a veggie person. There are tons of carrots, peppers, kale, cabbage, mangos, and herbs to keep you happy. But I wouldn’t be mad at you if you decided to pan fry a little tofu and add it to the mix. Not to mention a handful of chopped peanuts we add in at the end. Crunchy stuff makes the world go round.
One thing I’ll suggest doing is batch cooking chicken breasts on the weekend for weekday lunches. I’ve got such a roller coaster relationship with chicken, but I always go back to it. So usually, I’ll poach a boat load of chicken breasts, shred them and keep them in the freezer for when I need to make chicken tinga tacos, salads, or even pasta on the go. It helps cut down on hands-on time when you only have a few minutes between normal and hangry to get lunch or dinner out.
This summer, I plan on marinating batches of chicken and freezing it for days when I can’t be bothered to do any actual cooking in the house because hello!
112ºF temps are considered normal around here.
I’m going to put it out there, my chopped Thai chicken salad isn’t something brand new to us. I’ve shared a noodle version of this salad last year, and this year, we’re pumping it full of more colorful fruit and veggies and lightening up the dressing. The mangoes also add a nice little twist to the Thai chicken salad and just look at how much color they add. I’m without a doubt one of those people that eat with their eyes first.
Last thing. For anyone interested, these (affiliate link) are the meal prep containers I have and LOVE. And those cute little condiment containers (affiliate link) for the dressing because who even likes a soggy salad?
For the love of all things covered in peanut sauce, you have got to give this one a try!
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Skinny Peanut Dressing:
- ¼ cup peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons EACH: low sodium soy sauce and honey
- 2-3 tablespoons lime juice (see notes)
- 1 birdseye chili, chopped (see notes)
- 2 teaspoons EACH: minced garlic, minced ginger, and fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon oil (colorless, flavorless)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 cups cooked shredded chicken
- 2 carrots, chopped or shredded
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts and chopped herbs (basil and/or cilantro)
- 1 cup chopped kale
- 1 bunch scallions, chopped (greens)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped or shredded
- 1 large mango, chopped or sliced
- 1 medium-ish head of cabbage, chopped or shredded
- Dressing: combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor along with 3 tablespoons of water and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust with additional water, I used a total of 4 tablespoons because I prefer thinner dressing here so it coats everything a little better!
- Salad: Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a large bowl. If meal prepping, divide the salad into containers (affiliate link) and the dressing into condiment containers (affiliate link) and refrigerate. If serving immediately, dress the salad and serve.
- Personally, I prefer to use 3 tablespoons of lime juice because it balances a little better with the sweet mangoes. Feel free to use less if you'd like though!
- The birdseye chili can be replaced with ¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to preference)
- Feel free to make this with a rotisserie chicken if you'd like! You can also swap the peanuts for almonds or cashews!
- To make the prep for this salad faster, I usually use pre-shredded carrots and pre-shredded cabbage from the store. You'll need about 3/4 -1 full bag of shredded cabbage.