THAI HERB SALAD WITH SHREDDED CHICKEN + STRAWBERRIES
AS JUNE GLOOM GIVES WAY TO SUNNIER DAYS, I HAVE RETURNED TO THIS PERENNIAL FAVE
With its enticing contrast of flavors and textures, this boldly herbaceous salad begs to be kept a bit wild and unfussy, as summer things should be!
Tangles of cilantro stems nest among the basil and mint leaves, ripe juicy strawberries mingle with toasty flaked coconut and it’s all brought together with a sweet + savory citrus dressing.
The simple ingredient list (and the rotisserie chicken option) make for a speedy assembly… but instead I find myself lingering, allowing the heady scent of the herbs to consume me as I carefully pluck each leaf from its stem.
This simple act reminds me that summertime brings with it a simplicity that I want to savor.
And to my comrades in clean eating, enjoy this salad with a side of moral superiority; you’ve earned it. wink.
3/4 cup flaked unsweetened coconut, divided
12-16 ounces cold cooked chicken breast, shredded
1 jalapeno, sliced into thin rings and seeded
2 cups each, (fresh, lightly packed) cilantro sprigs, basil leaves and mint leaves
1 quart strawberries, hulled and quartered
flake salt, for finishing
3 large limes: use all the (finely grated) zest and 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon juice
2 tablespoons Red Boat (brand) Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
Serves 4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and toast the coconut until lightly golden, about 4-5 minutes. Keep an eye on it because it can go from golden to dark very quickly. Combine zest, lime juice, (you may need to use a citrus reamer to get enough juice) fish sauce, olive oil, honey, and salt in a mason jar (or similar container) and shake vigorously.
Just before serving, combine ingredients (sliced jalapeno, shredded chicken, herbs, strawberries and half of the toasted coconut) in a large bowl, drizzle with dressing, and toss gently to thoroughly coat. Divide between plates and top with the remaining toasted coconut. Sprinkle with flake salt and serve.
I find the flavor is more developed if I make the dressing a day ahead.
Use a rotisserie chicken for ease, or if you plan to roast your chicken breasts, Ina’s recipe is the best. Make sure you make them in advance so they will have time to cool.