Thai cooking was the most popular class I taught over a span of 15 years. The mystique of cooking from this culture which many people hadn’t experienced, combined with the exotic nature of the ingredients were my explanation of why. But true to most things popular in cooking, the incredible taste of flavors was what brought people back to learn more dishes.
This is a recipe I developed combining Thai ingredients with the oh so popular Lacinato kale. Also known as “dinosaur”, “Tuscan” and “black kale” it has dark blue-green, flat leaves and flavor that is more delicate and less bitter than the traditional curly leaf kale. The nutritional aspect of kale is noteworthy. It’s one of the top vegetables for nutrition. A good way to ease skeptical people into eating it is to use half kale and half romaine in a salad.
Another more unusual ingredient you may not be familiar with is “Thai” basil. It’s a sweet basil native to Southeast Asia with purple steams, narrow leaves and a licorice-like flavor. The basil adds a refreshing, cooling flavor, along with the mint, to balance the spicy flavors characteristic of Thai cooking.
- Thai Salad dressing (recipe follows)
- 4 cups thinly sliced Romaine lettuce
- 4 cups thinly sliced lacinato kale (stems and center ribs removed)
- 2 cups peeled, halved and thinly sliced cucumber
- 2 cups angle cut carrot slices
- 3 cups sliced or shredded cooked chicken breast or steamed tofu
- 1 cup thinly sliced Thai basil*
- ½ cup thinly sliced mint
- ⅔ cup toasted sliced almonds
- Toss romaine, kale, cucumber, carrots, chicken, basil and mint in a large bowl. Pour on dressing and toss to coat evenly; add almonds and toss again.
Thai basil is a sweet basil native to Southwest Asia. It has purple stems and narrow leaves with a licorice-like flavor. It'ss available in the produce section of Asian grocery stores.