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Versatile Peanut Butter

Langdon Clay

When most people think of peanut butter, they think of dessert or the classic PB&J sandwich, but did you know that peanut butter is absolutely wonderful in savory recipes?

When I was writing my book Simply Salads, one of the first dressings that came to mind was a peanut dressing I had once enjoyed at a restaurant. I knew it would be a tasty compliment to the more traditional salad dressings in my book.

Sweet and salty peanut butter makes a delicious dressing when paired with Asian-cuisine staples such soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and fresh ginger.

Peanut butter dressing is also very versatile.

In addition to a salad dressing, I often use it as a marinade for grilled chicken or shrimp or as a dipping sauce for veggies, spring rolls, or chicken satays.

What kid doesn’t love peanut butter? Using a familiar taste like the peanut butter in this dressing is a fun and easy way to introduce your kids to salads.

Which peanut butter to use? I developed my recipe using good old creamy peanut butter. Crunchy peanut butter works fine as well; the sauce will just not be as smooth. If you want to use natural or freshly-ground peanut butter, you may want to add a little extra honey.

My favorite salad to whip up with peanut butter dressing is a Chinese Chicken Salad. Simply toss mixed greens with roasted chicken, snow peas, shredded carrots, sliced scallions, chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro. Peanut butter dressing adds the finishing touch to this entrée salad.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Butter Dressing

For the Peanut Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh peeled ginger
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:

  • 1/2 cup Peanut Dressing
  • 1/2 cup fresh snow peas
  • 1 bag (5 ounces) Spring Mix salad blend
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a traditional grater
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 2 limes, quartered, for garnish

For the Peanut Dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, canola oil, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the salad:
Bring salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Add snow peas and cook until vibrant green and crisp tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Drain the peas and immerse in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain again and place in a large salad bowl.

Add the salad blend, chicken, carrots, scallions, cilantro, and peanuts and toss. Add the dressing to taste and gently toss to coat. Garnish with lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Tip: To save time, pick up a roasted rotisserie chicken at your local grocery for this recipe. The meat will be fresh, juicy, and flavorful.

Makes 4 dinner salads.

Source: Simply Salads by Jennifer Chandler

Jennifer Chandler graduated at the top of her class from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is a full-time mom to two daughters in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks The Southern Pantry Cookbook, Simply Salads, Simply Suppers, and Simply Grilling.