Recipes | CPK Thai Crunch Salad – healthy, quick, easy with how-to video

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This recipe for California Pizza Kitchen’s delicious Thai Crunch Salad, with how-to video, contains shredded Napa cabbage and authentic Thai peanut dressings.

California Pizza Kitchen’s delicious Thai Crunch Salad

This quick and easy recipe combines shredded Napa cabbage, chilled-grilled chicken breast, julienne cucumbers, edamame, crispy wontons, rice sticks, peanuts, cilantro, julienne carrots, red cabbage and green onions tossed with lime-cilantro and authentic Thai peanut dressings. Los Angeles photographer shoots recipe photos and other delicious food art.

Describing the Thai Crunch Salad served at California Pizza Kitchen as “probably the best salad I have ever had,” she offered a few details. “The blend of items in the salad is a delicious combination. But the peanut dressing combined with the lime dressing is what makes the salad,” Deborah wrote.

“A friend and I tried to figure out the ingredients, but didn’t get it quite right,” she reported, ending with, “If you could get this recipe, I would greatly appreciate it.”   

Landing the recipe – which is far lengthier than one might expect when plowing into the salad – involved contacting the company’s California-based marketing department. As it turns out, the recipe is available in the newly released CPK Family Cookbook.

CPK’s Thai Crunch Salad recipe how-to video

 CPK’s Thai Crunch Salad Recipe

Served at the restaurant at both lunch and dinner, the Thai Crunch Salad ($9.49 for a half salad; $12.99 for a full salad) is one in a medley of salad options served at the eatery that was founded in 1985 by attorneys Larry Flax and Rick Rosenfield, who are authors of the new cookbook.

The recipe came with this explanation: “We really wanted to re-experience the taste of one of our most popular original pizzas, the Thai Chicken Pizza, but with some added crunch and in a new format: a salad.”

After some experimentation, the restaurant’s founders came up with what they believe is “the perfect combination of crisp wontons, crisp rice sticks and peanuts, as well as our Thai Peanut Dressing,” according to the cookbook.

This is also the first salad that included edamame (soybeans), now a very popular ingredient.

Be advised, however, that the recipe comes with a warning: “Caution: This salad may be habit forming!”

Try it and you’ll know why, because you’ll soon be trying to figure out a way to sneak back to CPK for yet another taste.

California Pizza Kitchen’s Thai Crunch Salad
(Serves 4)

1 head Napa cabbage, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 small head red cabbage, cored and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
2 bunches scallions (green onions), thinly sliced (white and pale green parts only)
1 large English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled, cored and julienned
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked shelled edamame (soybeans)
2 cups roasted peanuts
4 breasts grilled garlic chicken
1 cup lime-cilantro dressing
4 cups fried wonton strips
2 cups crisp rice sticks
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch dice (optional)
1/2 cup Thai peanut dressing

Place cabbages, carrots, scallions, cucumber, cilantro, edamame and peanuts in very large mixing bowl and toss to mix.
Cut chicken into ½-inch cubes and add to mixing bowl.
Pour lime-cilantro dressing into bowl and toss to mix thoroughly. Gently toss in fried wonton strips. Divide salad among four, very large, chilled serving plates and top with crisp rice sticks.
Sprinkle crisp rice sticks over top of each salad, then use a squeeze bottle or syrup dispenser to drizzle Thai peanut dressing over rice sticks.
If serving the salads with avocado, distribute over the salads. Serve immediately.

Lime Cilantro Dressing
Makes 1 cup

1/4 small red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 small bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place bell pepper and cilantro leaves in the work bowl of a food processor, then add remaining ingredients except for olive oil. Process until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds.
With food processor on, add olive oil in a thin stream and continue processing for 1 minute after all the oil has been added; there should be no oil on the surface. Store covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week (whisk before using).

Thai Peanut Dressing
Makes ½ cup

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon (scant) cayenne pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon canola oil

Whisk together peanut butter, vinegar, honey, water and soy sauce. Stir in sugar, salt, cayenne and red pepper flakes. Add oil and continue whisking until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to five days. Bring to room temperature and whisk before using.
Grilled Garlic Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Place chicken breasts between sheets of waxed or parchment paper, and gently pound to a thickness of ½ inch. Do not pound them too thin; this is just to ensure they will cook evenly.
Combine olive oil and seasonings in a large mixing bowl. Stir to mix. Add chicken breasts to bowl, one by one, turning each in the marinade. Place chicken in refrigerator for 10 to 20 minutes.
If you have a hot grill available, grill chicken for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Do not overcook. If no grill is available, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake chicken in a pan, for about 30 minutes. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.Use chicken immediately, as desired; or let it cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Crisp Rice Sticks and Friend Wonton Strips
Makes 2 cups rice sticks or 3 cups wonton strips

1 quart canola oil
2 ounces (1 bundle) rice sticks (fine)
1 package wonton wrappers

Heat oil to 400 degrees Fahrenheit in a large, deep pot.
While oil is heating, gently unfold bundle of rice sticks and spread them apart. (Don’t worry if some of the pieces break; they can still be fried.) Cut wonton wrappers into ¼-inch strips and toss to separate the pieces.
When oil is hot, place all of rice sticks in the pan, pressing down gently with wire skimmer (if they won’t all fit, then fry half at a time). They will puff immediately. Fry for about 5 seconds. Fry wonton strips for about 30 seconds, or until golden.
Remove immediately with wire skimmer, and drain on several layers of paper towels. Allow rice sticks or wonton strips to cool.
Gently crush fried rice sticks with your hands. Store either topping at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.

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Here is another variation for the Thai peanut dressing

Thai Peanut Sauce (Satay Sauce), Great for Dipping or Marinating

While most Western versions of peanut sauce are made with peanut butter, this authentic Thai peanut sauce recipe starts with real peanuts – and you’ll taste the difference! At the same time, it’s super easy and quick to make. This peanut sauce can be used for a variety of purposes, from a dip for veggies to a sauce for chicken or beef satay. Or use it to make a yummy cold noodle salad or as a marinade for grilled chicken or tofu. A very easy and versatile peanut sauce recipe.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: SERVES 4-6 as a Dip

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh-tasting dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, to taste
  • 2 to 2.5 Tbsp. fish sauce – for vegetarians: substitute 2.5 to 3 Tbsp. regular soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. tamarind paste OR 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, OR 1 tsp. Thai chili sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • Preparation:

    1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until sauce is smooth. If you prefer a runnier peanut sauce, add a little more water or coconut milk.
    2. Do a taste test, adding more fish sauce (or soy sauce) if not salty enough, or more cayenne if not spicy enough. If too salty, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you’d prefer it sweeter, add a little more sugar.
    3. Serve warm or at room temperature with my Thai Chicken Satay, as a dip with fresh veggies, with fresh spring rolls, or other Asian finger foods. Or combine with noodles to create a Thai-style noodle dish or cold noodle salad. Enjoy!

    Note: This sauce tends to thicken as it sits – just add a little water or coconut milk to thin it out, as needed. Otherwise it stores well if kept covered in the refrigerator (keep up to 2 weeks; freeze thereafter).