I’ve got a split personality when it comes to food. When I’m out on the road, I’ll travel and try all sorts of new foods—I’m really the most omnivorous of omnivores. But, when I get back home, I majorly clean up my routine. As in, I get into clean-eating, plant-based mode and basically eat vegan for a week or so.
After my trip to Thailand, I was totally in love with Thai food on a whole other level, but I also needed a break from street food and noodles. I got inspired by this plant-based dinner that Earth Balance threw, so when they asked me to create a plant-based recipe with their products, I turned to their Coconut Peanut Butter Spread that basically is begging to be paired with Thai flavors.
The result is this Fall Spinach Salad with Lemongrass Peanut Dressing recipe with Roasted Butternut Squash, tons of fresh Amaranth spinach greens, crisp garlic chips, and a Thai-inspired lemongrass peanut dressing. Oh, and be forewarned that the dressing is seriously crave-worthy, so you might end up using it everywhere, from veggie snacking to your sandwiches.
Spinach Salad with Lemongrass Peanut Dressing Recipe
For The Roasted Butternut Squash:
- 2 small butternut squash halved and seeds removed
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil (like canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil)
- 1 pinch kosher salt for seasoning the squash
For The Coconut Peanut Dressing:
- 1/3 cup Earth Balance Coconut Peanut Butter Spread or another nut butter
- 1/4 cup coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar or palm sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1 (3 inch) piece lemongrass stalk finely chopped
- 1 kaffir lime leaf finely chopped
For The Crisp Garlic:
- 1/4 cup neutral oil (like canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil)
- 4 garlic cloves sliced paper thin
For The Spinach Salad:
- 4 handfuls amaranth spinach leaves or baby spinach or baby chard
- 1 small red onion sliced paper thin and soaked in ice water for 5 minutes
- 3 medium radishes sliced paper thin
- 1/4 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 handful roasted salted peanuts finely chopped, for garnish
- Roast The Butternut Squash: Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange the rack in the middle. Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, and season with salt. Roast the squash until knife tender, about 30 minutes. Remove and cool until you're able to handle the squash.TIP: Squash can be roasted up to two days ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Make The Coconut Peanut Dressing: Meanwhile, combine the peanut butter, coconut milk, tamari, sugar, vinegar, lemongrass, kaffir leaf, and 2 to 4 tablespoons of hot water in a blender and process until really smooth, at least 1 minute (it should be thin enough to be pourable but thick enough to coat the vegetables — and more water as needed). Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. TIP: Dressing can be made up to two days ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Crisp The Garlic: Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/4 cup oil over medium-high heat in a large frying pan. When it shimmers, add garlic and cook until garlic is crisp, golden brown, and fragrant. Remove garlic to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. TIP: Garlic can be made up to two days ahead of time. Store at room temperature in an airtight container until ready to use.
- Assemble The Salad: To serve, arrange a squash half in each salad bowl and add in amaranth spinach greens, radish, onion, quinoa, garlic chips, and toasted peanuts. Serve with dressing served alongside.