Raw Thai citrus salad with zucchini

I was flipping through one of my favorite cookbooks, A Modern Way to Eat, when I came across a recipe for Raw Thai Citrus Crunch Salad. I love all things Thai. I spent three weeks in Thailand for my honeymoon and it holds a special place in my heart. I started reading through the ingredients and the first one was courgette. I thought, “That is a lovely word. I wonder what it is?” I consulted my friend Google, and to my dismay, I found out it was zucchini. I cannot tell you how much I dislike zucchini. To me, it is the black licorice of the vegetable world. I am a nurse. I know a lot of gross words, but zucchini offends me more than most of those words. The only exception is if it is baked into bread and then that bread is covered in butter and honey.

After my initial reaction, I took a deep breath and continued to read the ingredients. Everything else sounded so yummy — in fact, it sounded like a fresh, healthy version of one of my favorite Thai dishes, Pad Thai. Also, I absolutely love this cookbook. The author, Anna Jones, has never disappointed me. She uses cool words like courgette and aubergine (eggplant) and refers to vegetables as simply “veg.” She is British, and the Brits have given us some amazing things. Think about it: Harry Potter, afternoon tea, and scones.

Considering all of this, I decided to expand my world a bit and make this salad. The flavors were so reminiscent of Pad Thai that I wondered what it would be like if I turned the zucchini into zoodles. Admittedly, I have not really been on board with them. Some person who probably likes black licorice took zucchini and tried to fool us all into thinking it was pasta. The first time I read about zoodles, I think my eyes rolled so hard they nearly got stuck. I was not going to participate in this travesty. Never.

I’m now eating those words, and eating the zoodles! I get it. The original recipe called for using a vegetable peeler to make strips, but making the zucchini into noodles is so much easier, and remarkably turns out a lot like actual noodles. This salad has that sweet, salty, spicy, sour balance that is so characteristic of Thai cuisine, but it turns it into something that you can eat and feel good about. It’s guilt-free and very satisfying. In fact, as the Brits would say, “It’s brilliant.”

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • Special equipment: spiralizer, or zoodle-maker

Salad

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled (If using a spiralizer, choose thicker carrots. 1 1/2-inch diameter works best.)
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 1 lime
  • 1 small bunch of basil
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro

Dressing

  • 2 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 small red chili (seeds removed), finely chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari (I use reduced-sodium soy)
  • Generous 1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water for a couple hours, then drained

Garnish

  • Raw cashews, chopped up

Directions

  1. Use a spiralizer to make noodles out of the zucchini and carrots. If you don’t have one, use a shredder or vegetable peeler.
  2. Chop the cabbage finely. Slice the red bell pepper and green onions finely. Add all of the spiralized and chopped veggies to a large bowl.
  3. Now prepare the grapefruit and lime. Cut the end and top off each piece of fruit. This makes a solid base to cut the fruit on. Peel the sides with a knife, removing the pith in the process. Now you should easily be able to cut out the fruit segments. Break these segments into juicy bits with your hands and add them to the bowl with the veggies.
  4. Roughly chop the basil and cilantro, then add all the basil and half the cilantro to the bowl. You can refrigerate all of this until you are ready to serve.
  5. Put all the dressing ingredients into a blender with about 1/2 cup of water. Process until smooth. Add a little more water if the dressing isn’t loose enough.
  6. Right before serving, add the dressing to the salad and mix it all up, making sure everything is coated well.
  7. Salt to taste. Top with the chopped cashews and remaining cilantro.
  8. If you have leftovers that sit in the fridge, a lot of moisture will come out. I just pour this off and move on. It makes great leftovers!

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 293
  • Total fat: 12 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 372 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 41 g
  • Dietary fiber: 9 g
  • Sugar: 23 g
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Potassium: 912 mg

Contributor

Amanda Bloom, RN