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Thanksgiving is next week and I’m giving you… a salad! I know, typical dietitian move, but you have to hear me out about this salad. For me, and I would assume for many of you, it is challenging to keep my diet in moderation this time of year with all of the delicious sweets and traditional, yet heavy, holiday dishes. For balance, I usually resort to eating salads each day for either lunch or dinner. After awhile though, green lettuce salads start to get a little mundane. Sure, there are lots of awesome salad recipes out there, but I can only buy so many ingredients for one person before it starts getting a little ridiculous. This Thai carrot salad is the perfect answer. I always have these ingredients in my pantry and it changes the salad pattern up just enough to keep things interesting! Another bonus is that carrots are always available, so you can make this salad year round and not have to worry about finding everything that you need.
There are so many things to love about this Thai carrot salad. The dressing is tangy and nutty, thanks to the citrus and cashews, which is a perfect match for the sweetness of the carrots. Like most salad dressings, it’s super easy and quick to make too. I just throw all of the ingredients into my mini blender, give it a few quick pulses, and it’s done! I usually serve the carrots over a bed of lettuce, but if you’re tired of eating lettuce, it’s really good all on it’s own too.
As delicious as the carrot salad is, the curry spiced cashews are what takes this salad from good to amazing. They are, by far, the best part of this recipe. One caution though: they are super addicting! The first time I made them, my husband and I could not stop raving about (or eating) them. Which is great, just keep in mind that cashews are very high in fat (albeit healthy fat) so they have lots of calories for being so tiny. The cashews have the perfect balance of sweet and salty, but with a ton of Thai curry flavor that is just phenomenal. Always, always, always make a full recipe of the cashews. I promise, you will not be disappointed. If this salad wasn’t great enough already, it’s also naturally gluten free, vegan and uses alternative sugars. See, I told you posting a salad one week before Thanksgiving would be worth it!
Thai Carrot Salad with Curry Spiced Cashews
For the curry spiced cashews
- 2 cups raw cashews (see notes for roasted cashews option)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon green curry paste (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- pinch of ground cardamom and coriander
For the dressing
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons dry roasted salted cashews or peanuts
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or maple syrup (both are delicious)
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari if gluten free)
For the salad
- 4 cups finely shredded carrot (I use my food processor for fast shredding. Either baby carrots or regular size will work.)
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Greens or lettuce, if desired
To make the cashews
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- Add cashews to baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes.
- In the meantime, add oil, maple syrup, and green curry paste to a medium mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly to combine.
- Add remaining spices and mix well.
- Remove slightly toasted cashews from the oven and add directly to the curry mixture. Toss to combine.
- Place cashews back on baking sheet and bake for another 8-12 minutes or until golden brown and roasted. I like to stir mine halfway through baking to ensure even toasting. (While cashews are roasting, make the dressing and prep other ingredients for the salad.)
- Allow cashews to cool slightly before serving over salad.
To make the dressing
- Add all of the ingredients to a small blender or food processor.
- Process until cashews are finely ground (some small chunks may remain) and ingredients are well mixed. Adjust seasonings as needed. Set aside.
- Add shredded carrot and red onion to a medium size mixing bowl.
- Pour half of dressing over carrot mixture and toss. Add more dressing, as desired.
- To serve, place desired amount of greens or lettuce on serving plate, if using.
- Top with carrot salad mixture, curry spiced cashews and cilantro. Enjoy!
- For leftovers, store the carrot salad and cashews separately, otherwise the cashew coating will bleed into the salad. The pre-dressed salad will keep for 2 days in the refrigerator. Separated dressing will keep for 7 days in the refrigerator, as will the cashews in an airtight container at room temperature.
1. I've used unsalted, roasted cashews successfully in this recipe many times. Just skip the first step of toasting them in the oven and start with mixing the cashews into the curry spice blend.
2. This is my favorite green curry paste. After leaving Japan, I was so happy to find it at the Asian food market in Spokane. It's got a good kick so I never need to add more cayenne. If yours is too mild, feel free to add cayenne pepper to taste.
Nutrition Information for Cashews *Serving Size:* 1/4 cup Calories: 200kcal Carbohydrate: 12g Fat: 15g Protein: 5g
Nutrition Information for Salad *Serving Size:* 1 cup carrot salad with 1/4 cup cashews Calories: 310kcal Carbohydrate: 34g Fat: 17g Protein: 7g
Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker