Yield: 6 servings
Many of my favorite ingredients from Thai cuisine combine in this stunning salad. Only, because I’m a Southern gal–southern U.S. that is–I include a peach where someone else might include a more authentic papaya or mango. The colors alone are intoxicating. But the flavor? It will transport you right to the tiny island nation.
If you’re thinking this sounds like a carb fest, don’t fret! I tend to shy away from dishes with too much rice or pasta. So, I kept adding vegetables and fruit until I felt I had created a nice ratio. But the rice is definitely needed for color contrast, an appealingly nutty flavor, and a slightly chewy texture, not to mention a bit of protein.
I prepared this salad for a small vegan potluck earlier this summer (and made it again the week I created my Thai “Not Dogs” because I was still craving Thai flavors). There were four of us gals, but when the hostess’s omnivorous partner came home mid-dinner, we invited him to join us, and my salad was his particular favorite. I know he had at least two servings…maybe more. And I bet you will too!
A quick note: if you can’t find black rice–our local Kroger carries it in the International foods aisle–perhaps substitute a wild rice combined with a Jasmine rice, and cook them according to package directions.
- 1 cup Thai black rice, simmered gently in 1 3/4 cups water over medium heat, covered, for about 35 minutes–watch closely and add more water or reduce heat if necessary–then cooled
- 1 large peach, pitted, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 small cucumber (about 6 inches), cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup lightly salted and roasted cashew halves and pieces
- 2 to 3 tablespoons each fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped mint preferably not spearmint), and finely chopped Thai or Vietnamese basil (if you can’t find the latter–I grow it so I have it at the ready–just substitute regular basil or omit and use about 1/4 cup each cilantro leaves and finely chopped mint)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons vegan fish sauce (it is sold as “vegetarian” in Asian markets)
- Zest and juice of 1/2 of a large lime
- 2 to 3 teaspoons natural sugar
- 1 small medium-hot chili, stemmed, cored, seeds removed, and minced
- Pinch of sea salt or to taste
In a medium bowl, combine all salad ingredients. In a small cup or bowl whisk together all dressing ingredients, and check for flavor balance, adding more of any ingredient if you choose. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss with a fork to combine. Check for salt and adjust if necessary. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.