Asian chopped salad is fortified with savory tamari dressing, 5-spice roasted almonds, and roasted coconut for a tantalizing plant-based salad.
A fully loaded Asian-inspired salad is calling! If you have a yen for a salad with crispy veggies and ingredients with a variety of flavors and textures, it's here. And it's pure salad satisfaction as far as I'm concerned.
Beyond the savory bites of this salad, it's super-convenient because so most of it can be made a day or two beforehand. That means you can just prep the veggies, toss them with the rest of the ingredients, and be prepared to shout 'voila' and get to the fun part. That's eating it.
Let’s take this salad on in 4 parts, most of which can be made ahead of time.
The salad stuff
That's the kale, cabbage, adzuki beans, fresh red chili, mint, cilantro (coriander), and scallions. But this is a loaded salad, my friend, so there are always additions and substitutions that can be made.
If you decide to jazz things up, consider that this is an Asian salad, so go for anything that you might toss in a stir fry. Consider shredded carrots, mung bean sprouts, Chinese pea pods, any color of sliced bell peppers, water chestnuts, small broccoli florets (raw or steamed), or small diced celery can rev things up or help clear out the vegetable crisper. If you aren't a kale person, you can substitute with spinach. You may want to serve that salad on the side as spinach can wilt if you end up with leftovers (ha!)
Want to get creative with the fresh herbs? Basil is a flavorful choice. It's also a substitution for those folks who aren't keen on cilantro.
The adzuki beans, Chinese firm brown beans, are one of my favorite salad beans. Grab these if you can find them – they are delish! The closest substitute is black beans. They are not quite the same, but you'll get that good fiber and protein to round out the nutrients.
Roasted, spiced almonds make this salad a star. For this recipe, you can use raw almonds or blanched (skins off). The coating
is a sticky, sweet, spicy mixture of soy sauce, agave syrup (or another liquid sweetener such as maple syrup), and Chinese 5-spice powder.
What is Chinese 5-spice blend?
A traditional mix of cinnamon, fennel, star anise, Sichuan pepper, and cloves, Chinese 5-spice powder is an aromatic, spicy, and warming blend that brings the Asian to your almonds. Although you can easily make your own, I usually keep a store-bought jar in the spice cabinet. You don't need to wait for the occasional almond roast to use it. It adds depth of flavor to simple stir-fries or any dish that might benefit from some Chinese flavor influence.
The easiest way to get the almonds ready to roast is to use a container with a lid. Add the Agave syrup (or another liquid sweetener), tamari, and the Chinese 5-spice mixture. Give it a vigorous shake. Then add the almonds and do a little jig until the almond are well-coated.
A few items to note about baking the almonds
The almonds will get a bit sticky. I find it least messy to use a baking dish rather than a baking sheet. It can be tricky to toss the almonds as they bake, even if you line the baking tray with parchment paper. In my experience, the dish is easier to clean.
Set the oven to 3250 F (1600 C) and aim to roast the almonds for 15 – 18 minutes, but be advised, you'll want to adjust depending on how 'roasted' you want them. We tend to like our almonds a bit on the dark side with a deep, robust flavor. That's us – you may want something a bit more subtle. In that case, reduce the roasting time.
When you remove the almonds, they will still be sticky and a bit moist. Once you remove them from the oven, get them out of the baking dish a place them on a plate lined with a paper towel or baking paper. As they cool, they'll get dry and will firm up. After they cool a bit, break them apart if they stick together (and they usually do).
You can set the almonds aside or make them ahead. Store them in a sealed container and try not to eat them all before they get on the salad. Otherwise, you'll be making more. I know of this I speak, my friends.
Roasted coconut flakes
Coconut and a tray – it's that simple. These are not the 'bacon' flakes that are so great on our Caesar salad. These are no-frills, easy as-it-gets toasted coconut flakes.
It's best to use the larger flakes for this, although, as an option, you could use the smaller kind.
I usually opt to roast the coconut by itself at a higher temperature than the almonds; however, you can do both at the same time. The coconut will take about 8 minutes at 3500 F (1600 C), about 3 - 5 minutes at the 4250 listed in the instructions.
Be sure to toss the coconut after a minute of roasting to ensure that it doesn't burn. I usually use a baking tray lined with parchment paper so I can just remove it from a clean try and toss it into a bowl. This is something that can be done a day or two before you use them.
4-ingredient tamari dressing
Bliss! I'll confess that I used to make this dressing using miso paste. Then I made a roasted sweet potato salad using almond butter. That settled that. I'm converted.
The almond butter makes this a rich, 'only need a little' dressing that clings to everything. It makes a delicious 'massage oil' for the kale. If that sounds strange, hear me out. If you add about ⅓ of the dressing to the chopped kale and leave it while you prep everything else, the kale will soften. It doesn't go limp, but the texture is more appealing. This also ensures that you get dressing with every bite. Now, that's my kind of salad.
Of course, you can use miso paste in the same amount. Aim for the white miso with a bit of mellower flavor or go bolder depending on your taste preference. Another substitution is to grab the peanut butter. The flavor will not be quite the same, but it definitely suffices if that's what you have on hand.
One advantage of using kale and cabbage is that if you actually happen to have salad leftover, it is still 'alive' the next day. The almonds may get a bit softer, but trust me, it's entirely edible, as in it will be entirely gone.
It needs to be said that I adore this salad just as the recipe presents. All the substitutions or additions suggested are for you, the chief cook and consumer, to get creative should you be so inclined. Ideas to file away for the second or third time you make this (and there will be multiple times). I firmly believe that cooking should be all about you and what you love. If I can provide some foundations to guide you, clear the path so you can soar, then I'm accomplishing what I've set out. Helping you find creative, tasty ways to enjoy plant-based foods. Peace.Print
Asian chopped salad
Asian chopped salad is a flavor fortified with tamari dressing, 5-spice roasted almonds, and roasted coconut for a tantalizing plant-based salad.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Salads & Bowls
- Cuisine: Asian
- Diet: Vegan
- 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 Thai chili pepper (you can substitute ¼ cup diced red pepper)
- 15 oz. can Adzuki beans rinsed and drained (can substitute with black beans)
- ¼ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro (coriander), finely chopped
- ¼ cup scallions, thinly sliced (about 2 scallions)
- ½ cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp. Agave syrup (or another liquid sweetener such as maple syrup or date syrup)
- 2 Tbsp. Tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
- ½ cup large coconut flakes
- 4 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. Tamari or dark soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. Agave syrup
- 2 Tbsp. almond butter
Timing tip: Start with the almonds and coconut. While the almonds bake, you can make the dressing and prep most of the salad.
- Preheat the oven to 3250 F (1600 C).
- In a small bowl with a lid, combine the agave syrup, tamari, and Chinese 5-spice blend. Whisk the ingredients or cover the bowl and shake to blend.
- Add the almonds to the bowl and shake to cover them. Alternatively, you can use a mix with a spoon.
- Place the almonds in a shallow baking dish and spread them evenly.
- Bake 16-18 minutes, stirring them occasionally, until a thick glaze forms. Keep an eye on the almonds. They burn easily.
- Remove the almonds from the baking dish and cool them on a plate lined with a paper towel or a small piece of parchment paper.
- Break up any large pieces and 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 coconut flakes until they are lightly browned (about 8 minutes).
- Preheat the oven to 4250 F (2200 C).
- To toast the coconut, place 1 cup of coconut large coconut flakes on a baking tray. Spread them out evenly and toast for 3-5 minutes until the coconut flakes are lightly browned. Toss them after 1 – 2 minutes of baking to ensure they roast evenly.
- Whisk together4 Tbsp. of rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp. Tamari or soy sauce, 2 Tbsp. Agave syrup, and 2 Tbsp. almond butter.
- 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 and 2 cups of cabbage. Add one-third of the dressing and gently massage the ingredients with your hands for 1 minute.
- Mix in the red chili, Adzuki beans, mint, cilantro, and scallions.
- Right before serving, toss the salad and mix in the almonds and coconut.
- Add the rest of the dressing or save it to serve on the side.
- You can use whole, raw almonds or blanched (skins off). If you use slivered or chopped almonds, be sure to reduce the roasting time. The almonds will be sticky when you first remove them from the oven. Once they dry, they will dry out and firm up.
- If you want to avoid using nut butter, you can also use white miso paste. The dressing will be a bit thinner with a different flavor but maintains the integrity of the salad.
- For those folks who are cilantro-intolerant, fresh basil is a great flavor enhancer. You can also serve chopped cilantro on the side for those who love it as much as we do.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight container. Even with dressing, this salad will stay crisp the next day. The almonds and coconut will get a bit softer, so if your intention is to take this salad along, keep those ingredients on the side to add right before you eat it.
Keywords: Asian chopped salad