Bright and refreshing with beautiful shades of the rainbow, this Chopped Thai Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing is delightfully crunchy and absolutely packed with flavor. Gluten-free, vegan, and nut-free, it’s the perfect no-cook salad for the summer season!
I adore chopped salads and here is another favourite that is always a winner for summer. It boasts a colourful medley of crunchy vegetables that are dressed in a salty, savoury and slightly spicy sesame-ginger dressing. Every bite is a flavourful explosion and I kid you not when I say I can’t get enough of it.
This recipe builds on the base of a good amount of red cabbage which brings an exceptionally vibrant colour to the salad, but any cabbage variety can be used. Combine it with any mix of vegetables that are looking great at the market—carrots, radishes, green onions, cucumbers, bell peppers—would all be fantastic. It makes a great first course or side dish for any grilled meat, or add some chicken or steak to the salad to make it a complete meal.
Best of all, this tangy chopped Thai salad does not mind sitting out for a while, making it perfect for summer cookouts and potlucks. Insanely delicious, healthy and nutritious, the contrasting rainbow colours make it a beauty, too.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Vegan, nut-free and gluten-free: As written, this chopped Thai salad is nut-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free with just a bit of sweetener to balance all the flavours. So go ahead and make a big bowl of this delicious salad because pretty much everyone can eat it!
- Nutritious: This healthy salad recipe is filled with tons of veggies. One look at the beautiful fresh, seasonal veggies in this salad and you know it packed with antioxidant-rich ingredients. The dressing has very little oil but is still full of flavor so you can enjoy as much of it as you want.
- Perfect hot-weather dish: Cooling, light and refreshing, this salad is the perfect dish for hot, summer weather.
- Great for meal prep: The crunchy veggies in this salad stay crunchy for days making it the perfect salad to make ahead and enjoy throughout the week.
- Endlessly adaptable: Substitution options are nearly endless in this versatile salad. Check out the “Variations” section below for all my suggestions.
You’ll need the following simple ingredients to make this Chopped Thai Salad with Sesame-Ginger Dressing:
- Cabbage: As I mentioned above, I use red cabbage but any green cabbage will also work. Napa and Savoy will soften a little quicker so keep that in mind if transporting or making ahead. You will need about 6 cups of chopped cabbage for this salad (from 1 small head).
- Frozen shelled edamame – Not only are edamame protein-packed, I find them absolutely delicious in this salad. If avoiding soy products, you can substitute with snow peas or sugar snap peas.
- Carrots – Carrots will be bursting at the Farmers market’s soon and are phenomenal in this salad. Bonus that they are so good for you and will hold their crunch for days.
- Fresh herbs – Fresh cilantro is excellent in Thai salads and I like using lots of it here. I also use parsley, mint and Thai basil. Use whichever herbs you prefer and if you dislike cilantro, simply omit it and use a little more of the other fresh herbs.
- Green onions – Not as strong as red onion, green onions will add loads of aromatic flavour to the salad.
- Cucumber – Cucumbers make this salad even more cooling and refreshing.
FOR THE DRESSING:
- Grated ginger and garlic – Don’t skip these aromatics, they add a wonderful flavour and sharp bite to the dressing.
- Toasted sesame oil – For the best nutty flavour. A little goes a long way so you will only need one tablespoon.
- Toasted sesame seeds – I love the tiny pops of crunch that toasted sesame seeds add to the salad dressing but I also like to garnish the salad with an extra sprinkling of seeds. So good!
- Rice vinegar – Provides the much-needed tang in this salad. Try not to substitute with another vinegar—rice vinegar is milder and lends a unique flavour to the dressing. In a pinch, use a little of white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
- Low-sodium soy sauce, coconut aminos, or Tamari – Any of these options are great for the dressing.
- Sweetener – To balance all the flavours we use a bit of sweetener in the dressing. I like to use agave syrup which is very neutral tasting but honey or pure maple syrup will work great also.
- Chili sauce – For just a little bit of heat, I like to add a teaspoon of sriracha or Sambal Oelek but feel free to omit if you prefer. A pinch of red pepper flakes will also work.
The great thing about this Thai salad recipe is that you can swap out, or add, ingredients to make it your own. Here’s a few suggestions:
- Make a Thai chicken salad: Make it a complete meal by adding some chopped cooked chicken or your favorite protein. Rotisserie chicken, or any leftover chicken would be great. Tofu, chickpeas, or tempeh would be some other great protein options. Rotisserie chicken would be great. Tofu, chickpeas, or tempeh would be some other great protein options.
- Swirl in some peanut butter: I absolutley love the flavorful dressing in this recipe, but Thai salads are also divine with a creamy peanut dressing. To make it, add 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, 1/4 cup warm water and 2 tablespoons lime juice to the dressing. TIP: Blending in a food processor or with an immersion blender will help it come together easier than just whisking.
- Add mango or orange: Mango or orange slices would be great in this crunchy Thai salad.
- Top with cashews or peanuts: I wanted to keep this salad allergen-friendly but chopped toasted cashews or peanuts would of course be fabulous with his salad. Just make sure to add them right when ready to serve so they stay crunchy.
- Add a red bell pepper: Or any sweet bell pepper would be a wonderful addition to this salad.
- Make it a noddle salad! Toss the tangy salad mixture with cooked udon, rice vermicelli, or soba noddles for a super delicious, heftier salad.
How To Make Chopped Thai Salad
The sesame-ginger dressing for this chopped Thai salad is truly out-of-this-world delicious. It’s made with mostly pantry ingredients but I do recommend grating the garlic and ginger, as opposed to mincing it. If you don’t have a microplane to grate the ginger and garlic, make sure to mince it very finely.
STEP 1: PREPARE THE SESAME-GINGER DRESSING
Using a microplane, grate ginger and garlic into a small bowl or jar. Add toasted sesame oil, honey (or sweetener of choice), toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chili sauce (if using). Whisk until combined.
STEP 2: ASSEMBLE AND DRESS THE SALAD
In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, edamame, cucumbers, green onions, and herbs. Drizzle with half of the dressing and toss to coat. Taste and add more dressing, if needed. Garnish with more sesame seeds and fresh herbs, if desired.
For maximum crunch, chill the salad before dressing it. A great way to maximize the crunch in the chopped veggies is to refrigerate them, covered, for at least 30 minutes before adding the dressing.
If transporting the salad, wait to toss with dressing. I know it goes without saying, but the salad will be crunchier and fresher if you store the dressing in a separate container and toss with the salad when you’re ready to eat.
Cut the veggies into small pieces. The key to a good chopped salad is to cut the veggies into extra-small pieces so that you get a variety of flavours and textures in every bite.
This Thai chopped salad with sesame-ginger dressing makes a great side dish to many grilled or roasted meat dishes. Try it with this Lemongrass Chicken, or this Yogurt Marinated Chicken. You can also grill some flank steak, slice it thinly and serve it beside the salad or mixed in so it can soak up the juices.
Make it a complete veggie meal by serving it with this Black Bean Burger or serve it with crispy tofu. For a light, but very satisfying meal, toss it with room-temperature cooked rice vermicelli or udon noodles.
Grilled shrimp or this Pistachio-Crusted Salmon, would also be excellent alongside this savoury Thai chopped salad.
The just-tossed salad will of course be a little brighter and crunchier, but if you happen to wind up with leftovers, it is fabulous even days later.
- To Make Ahead. The veggies can be chopped up two days ahead. The dressing can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for up to 1 week. Toss the veggies with the dressing when ready to serve.
- To Store. Place leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
More Delicious Summer Salads To Try
If you give this Chopped Thai Salad with Sesame-Ginger Dressing recipe a try, please feel free to leave a comment and/or a star rating below. We appreciate and welcome all your feedback. Thank you!
Chopped Thai Salad with Sesame-Ginger Dressing
For the salad
- 6 cups chopped red cabbage (or a mix of green and red)
- 2 large carrots, diced or julienned
- 4 Persian cucumbers or 1/2 English cucumber, diced
- 1 1/2 cups shelled edamame, thawed
- 6 green onion or 1 bunch, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, mint, basil or a mix
Sesame Ginger Dressing
- 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, grated or finely minced
- 1 garlic clove, grated or finely minced
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons honey agave, or maple syrup
- 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds plus more for garnish
- 3 Tablespoons cup soy sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons chili sauce (I use sriracha or sambal oelek) optional
- In a small bowl or glass jar combine ginger, garlic, rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, honey (or sweetener of choice), toasted sesame seeds, soy sauce, and chili sauce (if using). Whisk until combined.
- In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, edamame, green onions, cilantro and parsley (or herbs of choice). Drizzle with half of the dressing and toss to coat. Taste and add more dressing, if needed. Garnish with more toasted sesame seeds and fresh herbs, if desired.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate for 3-4 days.
- Cut the veggies into small pieces. The key to a good chopped salad is to cut the veggies into bite-sized pieces so that you get a variety of flavours and textures in every bite.
- For maximum crunch, chill the salad before dressing it. A great way to maximize the crunch in the chopped veggies is to refrigerate them, covered, for at least 30 minutes before adding the dressing.
- If transporting the salad, wait to toss with dressing. I know it goes without saying, but the salad will be crunchier and fresher if you store the dressing in a separate container and toss with the salad when you’re ready to eat.