Copy Cat CPK Thai Crunch Salad (California Pizza Kitchen)

My teenage daughter frequents California Pizza Kitchen and has been raving about their Thai Crunch Salad. I was curious, so I tried it. DELICIOUS! I just had to make it. Fortunately, CPK has the recipe online, but it's complicated. It uses two different dressings that they make for other salads on their menu. I combined and simplified the two dressings into one, and it came out fantastic. My simplified copycat dressing held up wonderfully to theirs, and in fact, mine is even healthier. I used only half of the oil and less of a healthier sweetener, and it tasted better that way. The dressing in this salad is seriously outstanding! While this CPK salad includes chicken, you could skip that ingredient and add more edamame for protein. Simply grill or bake the chicken according to the easy directions below, or use cooked cubed chicken you already have on hand. I prepare the chicken first and cook it while I'm making the salad. I use an oil spritzer (mister) to spray the wontons (which I have previously spread out on a baking sheet) with oil and then bake them at 375 degrees. They are golden brown in minutes, and light and crispy once they cool. Plus, they are fast to prepare, healthier than fried wontons and add that special crunchy touch to make this salad amazing. I skipped the rice sticks, but if you needed gluten-free crunch in your salad, substitute the super thin rice sticks for the wontons, using the same process to bake rather than deep-fry them. I simplified the salad in other ways as well. Start with Napa cabbage and add whatever vegetables you want. The vegetables listed are all very quick to cut. I ribbon-cut the carrots with a potato peeler because it's quick and easier than cutting them julienne-style. I love how the vegetables all stay crisp and will last for several days as long as you add the peanuts, avocados, dressing, and wontons just prior to serving. It's definitely worth making even though it has a lot of ingredients, and it's hardy so this can be the whole meal. What a great salad to eat through the week. You will be happy you made the effort!
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Salad Ingredients

1 head Napa cabbage, cut into 1/4-inch strips 1 small head red cabbage, cored and chopped 2 large carrots, peeled and ribboned 2 bunches scallions (green onions), thinly sliced (use the white and pale green parts only) 1 large English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled, cored and julienned 2 cups cooked, shelled edamame 2 cups roasted peanuts 4 grilled or baked garlic chicken breasts, cubed (see recipe below) 1 small bunch cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped (optional) 2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch dice (optional)

Lime Cilantro Thai Peanut Dressing Ingredients

1/4 red bell pepper 1 small bunch cilantro leaves 4 Tbsp raw honey or pure maple sugar 3 Tbsp rice vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned) 3 Tbsp lime juice 2 tsp Dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil 1/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 ground black pepper 3 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter 1 1/2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (or more for some extra kick) 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil

Garlic Chicken Ingredients

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts 6 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Crispy Baked Wontons Ingredients

1 package wonton wrappers or 2 ounces (1 bundle) rice sticks (fine) oil mister filled with high-heat oil like Canola or refined safflower oil

Directions

1) Place the chicken breasts between sheets of waxed or parchment paper and gently pound to a ½-inch thickness. Be careful not to pound them too thin; just enough so that they are the same thickness for uniform cooking. If your chicken breasts are fairly even in thickness, you can skip this step.
2) Combine olive oil and seasonings in a large Ziploc bag or bowl. Stir to mix. Add chicken breasts and shake or stir until all of the chicken is well-coated. Place the chicken in the refrigerator for 10 to 20 minutes while preparing the salad dressing.
3) Place the bell pepper and cilantro leaves in a blender or the work bowl of a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients except for the olive oil. Process until smooth, about 30 to 60 seconds.
4) With the blender or food processor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream and continue processing for 1 minute after all of the oil has been added. Store the dressing covered in the refrigerator.
5) If you have a hot grill available, grill the chicken for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Do not overcook. If no grill is available, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake your chicken in a pan for about 30 minutes. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees, Fahrenheit. Let the chicken sit for 5 minutes to redistribute the juices before you cut it into ½-inch cubes; let cool.
6) Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Lay the wontons out over a large greased baking sheet. Then spray a thin layer of oil over the tops of all the wontons with an oil mister filled with oil (or nonstick spray). Place on the oven rack and bake until golden brown, for about 5-10 minutes. As they cool, they become crispy. Repeat this process for more crunchy wontons to add to your salad. Break the wontons into bite-sized pieces.
7) If using thin rice sticks (rice threads), pull them apart as you spread them out on the prepared baking sheet. Use the same baking method as with the wontons except cook them for longer until crisp but tender. They aren’t as good as the deep fried version, but they give the a salad needed crunch if you can’t use the wontons. This healthy version of wontons is actually better than the deep fried version, so that is why I opt for the baked wantons.
8) Place the Napa and red cabbage, carrots, scallions, cucumber, and edamame into a very large mixing bowl and toss to mix. Add the chicken cubes to the mixing bowl. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Add the peanuts and diced avocado just prior to serving. Use a squeeze bottle or syrup dispenser to drizzle the dressing over the salad and top with the broken wontons pieces. Serve immediately.

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