Almond Crunch Salad with Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette

Ever since Cole and I started dating (almost five years ago…!) we've been into binge watching TV shows. Not unlike the rest of the modern world, it's kind of our thing. The very first show we watched together was Entourage. Followed by every season of Top Chef, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and so so many more you probably don't even want to know. 

One of my most favorite binge watching stints was when we watched the sort of little known local chef (to Cole at least, the native Californian) who first got on the map on local television and has since started his own Youtube series and livecast, Sam the Cooking Guy. Oh, the days of Sam the Cooking Guy were glorious! I was so thankful to Cole to have brought such a gem into my world. Not only is Sam just your average Joe cooking everyday recipes in his kitchen, but he is funny as hell. So when we binge watched not only were we consuming countless hours of food porn but we were laughing our bellies off while we were at it. 

While we fell off the Sam the Cooking Guy bandwagon and have moved onto bigger and better things (hello, Stranger Things/Silicon Valley/Westworld/Everything HBO and Netflix does because they are the second coming of Jesus Christ), I always think of Sam when I'm in the kitchen. Especially, when I think of a recipe that highlights some pretty awesome Asian ingredients, like soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, hoisin, sambal and even just your every day green onions. See, Sam cooks with these ingredients almost exclusively and he makes some pretty delicious looking thing with them! Which was why he inspired me to stock up my pantry with similar ingredients and get creative in the kitchen using this whole other flavor palette. 

This salad quite literally just came together on the fly. I was prepping kebabs for the grill and knew they needed something on the side. I had some red leaf lettuce in the fridge, a carrot and some cilantro. Next thing I know, I'm reaching for the soy sauce, ginger paste, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, sesame seeds and just a pinch of red chili flakes. Then finally a finishing touch of some roughly chopped almonds to complete this impressive salad. It was so serenditipous, because this crunchy, flavor packed salad I put in my mouth instantly became a new favorite. It was so good, I could've done without the kebabs I was cooking in the first place! Did you hear what I just said, you guys? It was so good I didn't even need to eat meat. This is pretty serious.

If you're feeling like you're in a salad rut or a food rut in general, this salad is sure to spice things up in a big way. The flavors of punchy ginger, soy, red chili flake and sesame oil paired with crunchy almonds and fresh veggies quite literally pop in your mouth. Serve it as a first course at your next meal and it's guaranteed to steal the show. 

Oh, and thanks, Sam for the inspo!

Almond Crunch Salad with Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1 head of red leaf lettuce or romaine, chopped – or really any green lettuce you like!
  • 1 carrot, peeled and shaved – I just use your standard ol' vegetable peeler to do this
  • 1/4 cup or a large handful of almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (balsamic vinegar actually works really well with this too)
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger or ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

Directions

In a large bowl layer lettuce, shredded carrots, cilantro and almonds. In a mason jar combine vinaigrette ingredients and shake, shake, shake! Pour over salad and toss to combine. Enjoy! 

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