As the sun's rays penetrate deeper and deeper, warming with what feels like an extreme intensity, I look for those things that bring coolness and comfort. A fresh Thai chicken satay salad with sweet peanut dressing is a perfectly succulent and crisp pick.
In the thick of summer, the hot, hazy days can be utterly unrelenting.
While the mornings offer cool beginnings with their lighter, crisper tones, these are short-lived as the sun slowly but surely makes its way higher and higher into the sky, until it takes its place directly above, bathing everything below with rich, glowing, golden rays that penetrate deep into all things, warming them to their core.
I adore the mild and immediate refuge that can be found beneath the gently swaying branches of an old tree, its leaves rustling and occasionally falling free from their long-held place, drifting slowly and sweetly to the ground below.
It is a simple moment that is offered in order to step out of the direct rays, so that damp skin may cool while body finds a place to lean and rest, and gather up some strength, once again.
The longing for relief is there.
A desire for coolness to wash over and enliven and refresh, to dominate for a little while, and for the harshness of the heat to retreat and subjugate itself slightly so that those wilted parts of ourselves can have a chance to repair and to be revived, is strong.
Hot, golden, glorious summer.
It encourages light to enter into our personal worlds that can often times become dreary and grey, and to lift up our spirits, and help us to see with more clarity and vibrancy that which is there all around, and good.
It encourages a longing to seek out little moments of coolness, freshness, crispness, little bites of greens and other colorful and wild tid-bits, like those found in a succulent Thai Chicken Satay Salad drizzled with a sweet, peanut dressing—something prepared especially for this season, and to enjoy fully with open and grateful hearts.
So while the stinging heat of the summer is here, prodding with its sharp, hot poker, may we remember to hold on to just enough of the warmth—that warmth that is contained within the deepest part of ourselves, that it may sustain later on down the line in the colder seasons when we begin to once again search for a spark.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Thai Chicken Satay Salad with Sweet Peanut Dressing
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 4
• 1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (not “light”, but regular)
• 4 cloves garlic
• 1 small stalk lemongrass, white part roughly chopped
• 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh ginger
• 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste
• 1 teaspoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon fish sauce
• ½ lime, zested and juiced
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken tenderloins (about 6), sliced in half lengthwise to create thinner strips
• Cooking spray
• 2 romaine lettuce hearts, shredded
• 1 cup shredded carrots
• 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
• 1 cup shredded red cabbage
• 1 cup cucumber, cut into thin strips
• 2 Roma tomatoes, quartered
• Sweet Peanut Dressing (recipe below)
• ½ cup crushed peanuts
• Lime wedges, for garnish
• Bamboo skewers, soaked in water
-To the bowl of a food processor add the can of coconut milk, plus the remainder of the ingredients up to and including the salt, and process until completely smooth and well-blended; you will have roughly 2 cups of this marinade, and you will need to reserve 1 cup of it (roughly half) for use in the Sweet Peanut Dressing (below).
-Pour half of the marinade (about a cup or just slightly under) over the chicken strips, and allow them to marinate for a couple of hours, or ideally, overnight for best flavor.
-Allow any excess marinade to drip off of the chicken, and carefully thread the strips onto the bamboo skewers.
-Place a grill pan over medium or medium-high heat, and spray a touch of cooking spray in the pan; grill a small batch of the chicken skewers, turning occasionally until charred on all sides and cooked through, about 7-8 minutes total; repeat with remaining skewers and hold on a plate.
-Prepare the salads by adding equal portions of the shredded romaine into bowls, then top with a section of the red bell pepper, red cabbage, carrot, and cucumber; stick a couple of the Roma tomato wedges in each, as well; add about 3 of the grilled chicken skewers over top, and squeeze over a lime wedge; drizzle everything with some of the Sweet Peanut Dressing, and enjoy.
Sweet Peanut Dressing Ingredients:
• Reserved marinade from above (about 1 cup)
• ¼ cup natural peanut butter
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar
• Juice of 1 lime
-Add all ingredients to the bowl of a food processor, and process until completely blended and smooth; use immediately, or, keep in a covered container in fridge.