This simple Thai vegetable salad features an authentic Thai flavor with a gentle kick. It’s also gluten-free and vegan.

This simple Thai vegetable salad features an authentic Thai flavor with a gentle kick. It’s also gluten-free and vegan.

A few years ago, I went to Chiang Mai, Thailand, with my mother and attended a cooking school onsite. This Thai vegetable salad is inspired by a papaya salad we learned on the trip. It’s gluten-free and entirely vegan, perfectly encapsulating the essence of Thai culinary tradition. It’s is also excellent for meal prep, getting even better over time as the flavors meld together. Add your protein of choice, and you have a complete meal that can sustain you for days.

Essential Ingredients for the Thai Vegetable Salad

When you’re ready to whip up this vibrant Thai Vegetable Salad, here’s everything you’ll need:

The Main Salad Ingredients

The main salad ingredients are green beans, carrots, purple cabbage, and cherry tomatoes. I like to add chopped nuts like walnuts, peanuts, or cashews for added texture and a bit of crunch, but that’s optional.

Thai Vegetable Salad-main ingredients

The Dressing Ingredients

For the salad dressing, which sets this salad apart, you’ll need fresh garlic and Thai chili, known as Bird’s eye chili. Freshly squeezed lemon juice brings acidity, harmonized with the umami of coconut aminos (a great alternative to soy sauce if you’re avoiding gluten). Then, a pinch of salt to taste.

Substitutes and Preferences

  • Nuts: If you avoid nuts or have a different preference, sunflower or pumpkin seeds can be used as a substitute. They bring a different kind of crunch while keeping the salad nut-free.
  • Thai Chili: If you prefer less heat, reduce the amount or substitute with a milder pepper. Alternatively, add more Thai chili or some chili flakes if you’re a spice lover.
  • Coconut Aminos: If coconut aminos are hard to find, low-sodium soy sauce can be a substitute, but you might want to add a hint of sweetness to balance the tang and spice to perfection. Maple syrup and honey both work.
  • Lemon Juice: Fresh lime juice can also be used if you prefer or want a slightly different citrus note.

StreetSmart Cooking Tips and Preparation Techniques

Ingredient Prep Tips for the Thai Vegetable Salad:

  • Blanching Green Beans: Blanching is key to vibrant and crisp green beans. Boil water with a dash of salt. Add the green beans and cook for two minutes. Quickly transfer them to an ice-water bath to halt the cooking process. Once cooled, slice them up.
  • Shredding and Slicing Vegetables: Uniformity in slicing and shredding ensures even dressing distribution and visual appeal. A mandolin slicer works wonders, but a good sharp knife does the job.
  • Nuts: If you decide to use nuts, consider roasting them lightly. This enhances their flavor and adds an extra crunch to the salad. Just spread them out on a baking sheet and toast in a preheated oven at 350°F (175°C) for about 5-7 minutes, shaking halfway through.

Making the Thai Salad Dressing:

  • Food Processor or Mortar and Pestle: Using a food processor will yield a more uniform and smoother dressing. Simply add all dressing ingredients into the food processor and blend until well combined. This method finely breaks down the garlic and chili, ensuring no surprise bites of overly pungent pieces. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle for your garlic and Thai chili, then add the lemon juice and coconut aminos to combine.
  • Emulsifying the Dressing: To keep the dressing emulsified, slowly add the lemon juice and coconut aminos to your processor while it’s running. This process helps create a more stable, consistent dressing that clings better to the vegetables.

Maintaining Vibrant Colors and Crunch:

  • Serve Fresh: This salad shines when served fresh. If you’re preparing it in advance, store the vegetables and dressing separately in airtight containers and combine just before serving to maintain texture and vibrancy.
  • Storing Tips: Line the storage container with paper towels to keep the salad fresh for a few days. This absorbs any excess moisture, preventing the salad from becoming soggy.
  • Vinegar Alert: Avoid acidic dressings directly on all veggies until serving time. The acidity can break down the cell walls of vegetables like cabbage and carrots, causing them to lose their crunch over time.
This simple Thai vegetable salad features an authentic Thai flavor with a gentle kick. It’s also gluten-free and vegan.

How to Customize and Serve the Thai Vegetable Salad

Tailoring this Thai Vegetable Salad to fit your personal preferences is a breeze. Given its simple, wholesome ingredients, the recipe is inherently flexible and inviting for tweaks based on what’s available in your pantry or what your taste buds crave.

Vegetable Variations:

You can easily swap out or add in more vegetables to your liking. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Bell Peppers: Add thinly sliced red, yellow, or orange bell peppers for a sweet crunch and a burst of color.
  • Cucumbers: Add thinly sliced or diced cucumbers to provide a refreshing and hydrating crunch.
  • Radishes: Thinly slice some radishes for an added peppery taste and crunch.
  • Snap Peas: These can be a great addition for their crisp texture and slight sweetness.

Protein Options:

While this salad is perfect as it is, adding a protein can make it a fuller, more satisfying meal:

  • Tofu: Add grilled or crispy tofu cubes for a vegan option.
  • Chicken: Add shredded chicken for extra protein, making it a heartier dish.
  • Shrimp: Grilled or sautéed shrimp can also complement the flavors beautifully.
  • Edamame: For a plant-based protein punch, toss in some shelled edamame.

Adjusting Spice Levels:

This recipe calls for Thai chili, which packs quite a punch. If you’re sensitive to heat, you can:

  • Reduce or omit the Thai chili altogether.
  • Substitute with a milder pepper such as jalapeño or even bell pepper for zero heat.
  • Alternatively, if you like it hot, consider increasing the chili or adding a dash of chili flakes.

Serving Suggestions:

This Thai Vegetable Salad is versatile enough to pair with various dishes or stand-alone. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pairing with Thai Dishes: Serve it alongside classic Thai dishes like Pad Thai, Tom Yum Soup, Thai Beef Stir Fry, or Thai Green Curry for a complete Thai-themed meal.
  • As a Side Dish, this salad makes a fresh, crisp accompaniment to grilled or sous vide meats or seafood, particularly during barbecue season.
  • Meal Prep: It holds up well in the fridge, making it excellent for meal prep. Pack it with a serving of protein and some jasmine rice or quinoa for balanced weekday lunches.
  • Light Lunch or Snack: Enjoy it on its own for a light and refreshing lunch or as an afternoon snack.

Remember, this Thai Vegetable Salad is just a starting point. Feel free to experiment with and customize the ingredients to fit your preferences.

This simple Thai vegetable salad features an authentic Thai flavor with a gentle kick. It’s also gluten-free and vegan.

Health Benefits of This Thai Vegetable Salad

This salad is a wholesome and nourishing dish packed with essential nutrients. Let’s explore the health properties of the key ingredients:

Green beans offer vitamins A, C, and K, iron, calcium, and fiber, aiding digestion and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Carrots contribute beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts to vitamin A, essential for vision and immune function. They are also rich in dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin K1.

Purple cabbage stands out with its high levels of vitamins C and K, dietary fiber, and anthocyanins, antioxidants that help fight inflammation and may lower the risk of chronic diseases.

Cherry tomatoes are a juicy source of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as lycopene, an antioxidant linked to reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

The dressing features coconut aminos, a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce. It is lower in sodium and contains 17 amino acids that support various bodily functions. Fresh lemon juice provides vitamin C, boosting the immune system and aiding iron absorption from plant-based ingredients.

This vibrant salad is a low-calorie, nutrient-dense dish filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. It nourishes your body and keeps you feeling energized.

Here it is—a vibrant, flavorful, healthy salad ready in less than 20 minutes. Try it and leave a comment to let me know what you come up with.

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This simple Thai vegetable salad features an authentic Thai flavor with a gentle kick. It’s also gluten-free and vegan.

Thai Vegetable Salad (Gluten Free & Vegan)

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  • Author: Sharon Chen
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 17 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No Cook
  • Cuisine: Thai
  • Diet: Vegan
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Description

This simple Thai vegetable salad features an authentic Thai flavor with a gentle kick. It’s also gluten-free and vegan.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1 cup carrots, grated or use carrot matchsticks
  • 1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped nuts of your choice (optional)

For the Thai salad dressing:

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Thai chili
  • 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Blanch green beans in salted boiling water for 2 minutes. Rinse in cold water and slice into long strings.
  2. Arrange the green beans, carrots, cabbage, and tomatoes in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine all dressing ingredients in a small food processor. Process until the garlic and chili are chopped into small bits, and all other dressing ingredients are combined well.
  4. Pour the dressing onto the vegetables and mix well. Sprinkle with chopped nuts if using, and serve.

Notes

Other vegetable options for the salad: bell peppers, cucumbers, radish, etc.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 201
  • Sugar: 5.4g
  • Sodium: 470mg
  • Fat: 12.7g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.1g
  • Carbohydrates: 14.3g
  • Fiber: 4.2g
  • Protein: 7.3g

About the Author

Sharon Chen is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and author of the Complete Sous Vide Cookbook. She believes food not only brings healing but also connection. As the creator of StreetSmart Kitchen, she aims to make meal prep easier than ever and help you find balance, ease, joy, and simplicity in the kitchen as you improve your well-being.