A super-fast salad with fresh herbs, lime juice, pickled onions and a sprinkling of peanuts for all the flavor – for those of us who are living the plant-based life (or not).
If you’re anything like me, at some point you decided to buy some amazing new ingredients to make your favorite restaurant dish at home. Only to look in the fridge months later and realize you hadn’t used them since! Our food is too precious to let it go to waste. If you bought these special ingredients, you should use them to spice up your meals on a regular basis! Treat yourself.
Where do you start? Look in your fridge and notice what has been sitting there for a while. If it has gone bad, it’s time to throw it out. If it’s still good, figure out how to use it in the meals you eat everyday.
Leftover tomato paste? Put it on your morning eggs or mix it with mayo to put on a sandwich. Curry paste? Stir it into some sauteed veggies and put it on rice. A jar of salad dressing? Chop of whatever vegetable you have around, add some salt and herbs and use up that dressing.
How do you use leftover ingredients? My rule of thumb: Be confident, get creative, but don’t overthink it 🙂
Once you’ve used up your leftover ingredients, here’s my tip to help you decide what to buy in the future. What cuisines do you crave most often? What do you like to cook? Buy ingredients that match with the foods you like to eat the most. It’ll be worth it to have them around and to learn how to cook different foods with those same flavors if you haven’t yet.
If you’re thinking of buying ingredients for cuisines or foods that you know you’re not going to make often, I’d recommend holding off. Save those meals for dining out. You can still look forward to having those foods, but leave the cooking to restaurant chefs.
A few years ago, I made Thai curry at home for the first time. The leftover fish sauce and curry paste sat in the fridge for months until I moved and sadly threw them out.
I have since made more curry, and have ALSO figured out how to use those ingredients that I threw out the first time – fish sauce, chili garlic sauce, and shrimp paste. (PSA – If you haven’t tried shrimp paste, I’d highly recommend it! Check out Kamayan Sauteed Shrimp Paste for some salty, sweet, umami goodness. It goes well in scrambled eggs, on top of rice, stirred into soup…)
Salad is my answer to most things. I also love and crave Asian flavors. Put the two together, and you get this salad. It truly takes only 5 minutes to make if you have the ingredients on hand. There’s no need to mix the dressing in a separate container. Just put everything in a bowl, mix and enjoy.
Someday I hope to go to Thailand and learn how to do some true Thai cooking. But for now, this crunchy, herby salad will satisfy my cravings.
5-Minute Thai Inspired Salad with Spicy Lime Dressing and Fresh Herbs
For the salad
- Salad greens
- Cooked or canned black beans (tofu or chickpeas would also work)
- 1 Cucumber (Persian are best)
- 1 Carrot shredded
- Pickled red onions
- Fresh herbs cilantro, basil, mint will all work
- Nuts peanuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews and pepitas will all work
For the dressing
- Juice of half a lime
- 1 tsp fish sauce more or less, depending on your preferences
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce, or sambal oelek
- 1/2 tsp shrimp paste optional, but highly recommended
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil optional
To make the salad
- Chop your greens, herbs, cucumbers and carrots into your desired bite size. I like to eat my salads with a spoon, so I chop my greens into smaller, more manageable pieces.
- Put all your salad ingredients into a bowl in whatever proportions you're feeling at the moment.
To make the dressing
- This dressing can be made two different ways. If you're really ambitious, put all the dressing ingredients into a bowl, mix, taste and make additions until you like the flavor. OR, you can squeeze the lime juice and pour the other ingredients on the salad like the lazy, confident person you are.
- Whichever method you choose, mix that salad to distribute your dressing goodness.
- Eat mindfully without distraction. Enjoy.