Years ago, as a young professional right out of college (and making not as much as I wanted at my first real job), my cooking repertoire for homemade dinners was kinda limited. One of the big reasons I was afraid to (slash couldn’t afford to) branch out into more recipes was because I hadn’t really learned to cook with herbs. I’d flip through cooking magazines, but recipes with long ingredient lists or lots of herbs deterred me. I hated using just a fraction of a bunch of herbs and letting the rest go to waste after several days in my fridge. Sometimes I’d use dried herbs, but more often than not, I’d just skip the recipe.
Hooray for expanding horizons as we grow up.
I’ve made this salad a couple of times this summer when I have extra cilantro (which is often) or extra mint (which is less often) on hand. The herbs pair with a flavorful but not overpowering Thai-style dressing, making an otherwise simple salad a bit more exciting. I don’t cook often with mint and have found other herbs, especially basil, make a good substitution.
Thai-Style Herb Salad with Grilled Chicken
2 Tablespoons chopped peanuts
4 chicken thighs
3 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
3 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon fish sauce
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chili-garlic sauce
½ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
2/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 heads romaine lettuce
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1. Marinate the chicken. Combine olive oil, chili-garlic sauce, and soy sauce in a bowl or zipper-lock bag. Add the chicken and coat evenly. Allow to sit for ~30 minutes.
2. Using a cutting board and a knife (or a mortar and pestle), finely chop the garlic, add sugar, and smash into a paste. Transfer to a bowl and add lime juice, fish sauce, shallots, and 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Mix well. Add ½ of the chopped herbs.
3. Grill the chicken until its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from grill, cover in foil, and allow to rest 5 minutes. Slice into strips and set aside.
4. Combine the romaine lettuce, sugar snap peas, cucumber, and remaining herbs together in a large bowl. Serve the salad topped with dressing, sliced chicken, and sprinkled with peanuts.