Gluten Free Crunchy Chicken Peanut Salad
I love crispy, crunchy salads – something about eating lots of crispy salad makes me feel so virtuous (and as if I deserve dessert afterwards!). I will often order a big main dish salad at restaurants for dinner. I mean after all, salad is gluten-free, right? Well, yes and sometimes NO.
I unthinkingly ordered a crunchy peanut salad at a restaurant not too long ago without checking if it was gluten-free. I know, I know – always, always check! But I didn’t and had to pay the consequences afterward.
I loved the salad but hated the way I felt 2 hours later (and all through the night, and the next day…) so I decided to make my own version of that salad as a gluten-free recipe at home where I could be certain it was indeed gluten-free.
This Gluten Free Crunchy Chicken Peanut Salad recipe is packed full of crisp veggies and for even more crunch, some fried mung bean vermicelli noodles. You can get the mung bean vermicelli noodles at an Asian market or in the ethnic section of the grocery store; they are sometimes called cellophane or glass noodles. They come in various thicknesses and for this recipe I used really thin ones (vermicelli). They are basically a dried noodle made from starch and water and can be reconstituted and used in soups, stir fries and spring rolls. When they are fried briefly in hot oil they puff up dramatically and add amazing crunch and texture plus a little touch of the exotic to salads. Don’t be afraid of frying the noodles, it is easy to do, takes just a few seconds and will make people think you are some fancy schmancy chef.
I added some protein to the salad by shredding up some rotisserie chicken but you can use tofu instead or just leave it out altogether if you want a vegetarian meal. For the dressing I used a NEW gluten-free Asian dressing from San-J (the people who bring you gluten free soy sauce) Tamari Peanut Asian Dressing.
This recipe makes a ton of salad – it serves at least 6 as a main dish and is a really great pot luck dish. Just make it up to the point of adding the fried noodles, peanuts and dressing, place in a bowl topped with some damp paper towels, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate it and it will stay crunchy for a day or two. Take the fried noodles, peanuts and dressing separately and toss just before serving.
And do you want to know what else? I made this huge bowl of goodness for just a bit more than it cost me to get a very similar salad for one at the restaurant – and I didn’t get gluten poisoned!
Gluten Free Crunchy Chicken Peanut Salad
1 head Napa cabbage, shredded
1 small head red cabbage, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
4 cups cooked chicken, shredded
2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 English (hothouse) cucumber, julienned
2 cups shredded carrots
4 ounces snow peas, thinly sliced
8 ounces bean sprouts
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
4 ounces mung bean vermicelli noodles
1½ cups San-J Tamari Peanut Asian Dressing
2 cups dry roasted, salted peanuts
Kosher or fine sea salt and pepper
Combine the Napa cabbage, red cabbage, shredded chicken, green onions, cucumbers, carrots, snow peas, bean sprouts and cilantro in a very large mixing bowl.
Using your hands, gently pull the mung bean vermicelli noodles apart into smaller portions. Place some paper towels on 2 dinner plates. In a small skillet add an inch of cooking oil (the smaller the skillet, the less oil you need) and heat the oil until it ripples but does not smoke. Fry one small handful of noodles at a time until they puff up, about 5 seconds, flip over with tongs and fry the other side for a second or two. Remove from oil with tongs, place on the prepared plate and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat until all the noodles are fried.
Add the dressing to the vegetable/chicken mixture and toss well to coat. Crumble the fried mung bean vermicelli noodles into the salad; add the peanuts, season with about a teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper, toss again and serve.
This Gluten Free Crunchy Chicken Peanut Salad recipe serves 6
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