The Thai Garden Salad with Herbs is the easiest, most delicious garden salad that ever graced The Salad Lobby, in our humble, unbiased opinion.
Take a base of whatever greens you fancy—we used baby spinach. Add whatever chopped vegetables float your boat, including, but not limited to, cucumber, red cabbage, carrots, celery, and red bell pepper. Sprinkle with fresh, chopped herbs commonly used in Thai cuisine such as mint, cilantro, and basil and some chopped, roasted peanuts.
The herbs make the Thai Garden Salad and give it the hint of Southeast Asian flavor. Herbs are very important in Laotian, Vietnamese, and Thai cooking. The strong flavors from the essential oils stimulate the senses, but don’t overpower the flavors of the vegetables.
We served this salad with our Peanut Lime Vinaigrette, which is very reminiscent of the peanut sauce typically served at Thai restaurants in the US. Contrary to popular belief, peanut sauce is not Thai, but rather Malaysian and Indonesian. You can find a type of peanut sauce in Thailand, made with ground peanuts rather than peanut butter, which is virtually non-existent in Thailand. You might find peanut sauce served with satay, which are grilled skewers of meat and is also originally an Indonesian dish, or fried tofu.
So, we call it Thai-inspired because the herbs remind us of the flavorful salads we loved in Thailand, though the dressing is not entirely traditional. You could also serve this salad with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette or even a yogurt-based dressing.
This salad is great as a make-ahead meal for lunches. If you desire more protein or grains, it goes well with chicken, tofu, brown rice, or quinoa.