Special salad time
Think Asian chopped salad, easy Tamari dressing, savory 5-spice almonds and roasted coconut. I know, suddenly, you are feeling hungry for something special. Very, very hungry.
Saturday night salads
I often make salads for dinner on Saturdays. This is because my husband almost always does a big Saturday lunch. A big lunch often leads me to salad for dinner. That’s not to say my salad won’t be a satisfying meal. This girl has standards.
Point of clarification
The ingredients for Asian chopped salad are straightforward. Kale, cabbage, adzuki beans, mint, coriander (cilantro), scallions. Check. But straightforward to me doesn’t always translate. My point of clarification here is all about chili. For several of my dishes such as fried cauliflower rice, I use red chili peppers which are actually Lombok chili peppers. You might know these as cayenne chilis or Hawaiian chilis. They are not the same a Bird’s eye which are Thai chilis. Food for thought.
About the recipe
On a practical note, if you want to use a hot chili, go for it. Use what is available. Don't spend time searching. If you can’t stand the heat, stay in the kitchen and forget the chili or add a bit of red bell pepper. It will add a nice bit of color and sweetness. You can also add some cayenne or red pepper flakes to the dressing and get a bit of spice that way.
Now that we’re past ‘chiligate’, I can assure you that the Tamari dressing is clear and easy. You simply want to mix together rice vinegar, Tamari, liquid sweetener (I used Agave) and miso. You can substitute soy sauce for the Tamari. Liquid sweeteners can include Agave, brown rice syrup or maple syrup. Miso paste can be picked up in many larger supermarkets or Asian markets. Go for mellow white miso (Shiro) if you can, but any will work for this recipe.
Special salads are all about special ingredients. 5-spice almonds fit that bill. This easy condiment seriously is just Tamari (soy sauce), agave syrup and Chinese 5-spice powder. If you aren’t familiar with 5-spice powder, it’s widely available at most supermarkets. What makes the almonds special is the baking. That allows all the flavors to meld together. You end up with savory, gooey yumminess.
It might seem like a simple thing, but roasting large coconut flakes makes a difference. I admit it’s optional, but it takes only a few minutes. Roasted coconut has a crunchier texture and a less sweet taste. If you can’t find the bigger flakes, you can add more common grated coconut, but my advice is to reduce the amount to ¼ cup. Otherwise, the salad could be too sweet.
Timing is everything
After a bit of resistance, I am now an official kale convert. I won’t gush, but I must state the obvious – kale doesn’t just stand up to a dressing, it dances. This means that you get fresh salad leftovers (if you are so lucky to have them). If you are planning on leftovers or making this as a portable lunch (and it is an awesome one), add the almonds and coconut to each serving so they stay fresh for the next day.
Make food special. Think small extra things. Roasted coconut flakes, chopped cilantro, and additional spice. Turn a salad into a celebratory meal. You aren’t limited by plant-based cooking. You are stretched when you aren’t concerned about a meal of meat and 2 veg. That’s more than just an opportunity for good health. Peace.Print
Asian chopped salad with easy Tamari dressing, savory 5-spice almonds and sweet roasted coconut is the ultimate spicy, savory, guilt-free meal in a bowl.
- 4 cups chopped or shredded kale. If you are using kale leaves, wash and tear the leaves
- 2 cups thinly sliced or chopped cabbage
- 1 red chili thinly sliced red chili pepper (you can substitute ¼ cup diced red pepper for less heat)
- 15 oz. can Adzuki beans rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- ¼ cup fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
- ¼ cup scallions, thinly sliced (about 2 scallions)
- 1 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp. agave syrup
- 2 Tbsp. Tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tsp. Chinese 5-spice mixture
- ½ cup large coconut flakes
Timing tip: Start with the almonds and coconut. While the almonds bake, you can make the dressing and prep most of the salad.
- Pre-heat the oven to 3250 F (1600 C)
- In a shallow baking dish, add 2 Tbsp. Agave syrup, 2 Tbsp. Tamari or soy sauce and 2 tsp. Chinese 5-spice mixture. Mix well.
- Add 1 cup roughly chopped almonds
- Bake 16-18 minutes, stirring occasionally until a thick glaze forms. Keep an eye on the almonds so they don’t burn.
- Transfer the almonds from the baking dish to a foil or parchment paper lined dish.
- Allow the almonds to cool, then break up any large pieces.
- Store any unused almonds in an airtight container. The almonds will last for up to 2 weeks.
**note – you can toast the coconut flakes along with the almonds. Bake them above the almond tray. Toast the flakes until they are lightly browned (about 8 minutes).
- Pre-heat the oven to 4250 F (2200 C)
- To toast the coconut, place 1 cup coconut large coconut flakes on a baking tray. Toast for 3-5 minutes until the flakes are lightly browned (about 4 minutes).
- Whisk together 6 Tbsp. rice vinegar, 6 Tbsp. Tamari or soy sauce, 4 Tbsp. Agave syrup, and 4 Tbsp. miso paste.Alternatively, you can put all the ingredients in a small leak proof container or jar and shake the ingredients.
Assemble the Salad
- Drain and rinse the can of Adzuki beans.
- In a large salad bowl, mix together 4 cups of kale, 2 cups of cabbage, chopped chili pepper, Adzuki beans, ¼ cup chopped mint and cilantro and ¼ cup sliced scallions. Mix well.
- Mix in ¼ cup of the dressing. Mix well.
- Right before serving, toss the salad and mix in the almonds and coconut.
- Keep any extra dressing on hand in case someone needs it.
- This salad is wonderful if you serve it immediately, but it also enjoys resting with the dressing prior to adding the almonds and coconut.
- You may want to add the almonds and coconut to individual servings if you think you will have salad left over. That said, it is great after a day with the toppings on and a few more added.
- Kale and cabbage are super salad survivors. You will have a crispy salad 2 days after adding the dressing. It might be great on day three – I’ve never made it beyond day 2.
- Category: Salads & Bowls
- Method: Chop & Bake
- Cuisine: Asian
Keywords: Asian chopped salad