Edit: Please note that this post pre-dates my decision to shift to a plant-based diet.
I love incorporating different flavours into my salads, and I am realising that more and more I seem to find inspiration for my recipes in my South-East Asian roots. Today I’m sharing with you a recipe for a Thai Red Curry Grilled Chicken Salad. Curry is a staple in the region, and across the different cultures there are various adaptations. There’s just something just about the flavourful, spicy, aromatic and rich curry gravy that remind you of home.
The core ingredients of the curry paste are pretty nutrient packed. Ginger and turmeric form the base of most curry pastes, and each have potent anti-inflammatory properties. Chili’s capsaicin, the compound that makes it hot and spicy, is anti-bacterial and can also lower LDL cholesterol. Curries have a reputation for being unhealthy, but if you cook your curry with minimal oil, use lean meat and use coconut milk thoughtfully, there is no reason to restrict yourself from having curry in your life. In this recipe, I use red curry paste on the chicken breast as a marinade and incorporate it into the dressing.
I quite love the Thai’s take on curry, especially when they add fruit like lychee and dragonfruit into the curry. Divine! I incorporate the basic idea here, althoughI use only dragonfruit since fresh lychee is a bit hard to come by. But lychee would be amazing! Dragonfruit is rich in vitamin C, several B vitamins, carotene and some protein. It even has some calcium and iron to pack a nutritional punch. Since the dragonfruit is packed with seeds you cannot avoid eating, you’ll also get the benefits of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Further, if you get red dragonfruit it has an added benefit of lycopene which is linked to preventing cancer.
Have I told you how much I love baby spinach? I use it a lot as a base of my salads because it’s pretty mild tasting, yet packed with nutrition. A true nutrition powerhouse, the list is almost overwhelming, and note that this is not even in small percentages of your daily recommended intake! In the vitamins corner: vitamins K, A, C, Bs and E. In the minerals corner: manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and protein! There’s so many ways to incorporate baby spinach into your diet, there’s almost no excuse not to. They’re a perfect salad base, you can blend them into smoothies (you can not taste them, trust me!) and you can stir them into any hot meal right at the end so that they are just wilted.
If you are vegetarian, you can easily adjust this recipe by replacing the chicken breast with firm tofu. Let it marinade in the red curry paste and lightly pan-fry, then cut it into cubes to serve with the salad.
- 2 chicken breasts, skinless – vegetarian alternative, use 2 small blocks of firm tofu
- 1 tsp red curry paste - I use a store bought paste for convenience, just look out for pastes without preservatives and such
- 1 packet baby spinach (2 big handfuls)
- 1 carrot
- ½ a turnip
- 1 white dragonfruit
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon red curry paste
- Coat your chicken breasts in the red curry paste and let it marinate for a minimum of ten minutes, or longer.
- Heat your griddle pan or non-stick frying pan. When hot, grill the chicken breasts on medium heat for around 4 minutes on each side. Check that it’s ready by piercing the meat with a knife to see if the juices run clear. Take off the heat and set aside.
- Prepare the dressing by measuring out the ingredients and whisking it together until combined.
- Cut the turnip and carrots into matchsticks. In this recipe I try to spiralise my carrots. I made the mistake of trying to separate the strands. Ignore my carrots. You’ll be fine with matchsticks.
- Cut the dragonfruit into half and scoop the fruit flesh out with a spoon, then cut into cubes.
- Now you can assemble the salad. Divide the baby spinach between two plates, add the turnip, carrot and dragonfruit. Top the salad with the chicken (or tofu, if using), then drizzle over the dressing.
Enjoy! xx, Bee