These chilled Asian salad lettuce wraps are high in flavor and protein with chickpea string pasta tossed in a delicious peanut sauce that showcases quintessential spicy Thai flavors. And this, all on a bed of shredded veggies, garlic, green onions, pine nuts and more, served on butter head lettuce leaves. Soon to become your favorite chilled side salad or barbecue bring-along!
Asian Lettuce Wraps with Pasta & Peanut Sauce
These Asian lettuce wraps with pasta and peanut sauce are addictive! We set them out in trays on a weekend barbecue and no one could pass them without reaching out and grabbing one, and stuffing it into their mouths, haha.
The Asian salad itself is quite spicy, with the Thai peanut sauce. I was a bit heavy handed with the cayenne pepper, so reduce that if you want a milder bite. But the protein-rich pasta and the buttery butter head lettuce leaves (also called Boston lettuce) really break the bite so you will like the combination I created.
The mixture is a long list of ingredients, and feel free to leave out what you don't have already.
And add more veggies that you do. This salad really is easy to customize.
The essentials are the pasta, the peanut sauce, the basil and parsley and at least three shredded veggies.
The Benefits of Throwing Spaghetti Pasta in a Side Salad
Adding a protein-rich chickpea spaghetti pasta makes this mixture filling and satisfying, gluten-free and suitable as a main dish.
I love using chickpea spaghetti pasta because it adds real nutritional benefit to the dish, primarily protein. And, of course, the gluten-free bonus!
My favorite brand is linked in ingredients, but feel free to use your favorite brand. Just be sure you use spaghetti pasta, or string. The stringy format is the perfect vehicle for the peanut sauce. And chickpea pasta, when under-cooked a tad, actually breaks into 1-inch bits that resemble noodles, the perfect form for a Thai Asian salad.
Peanut Thai Asian Flavors in this Salad
The peanut sauce is very peanut-y.
Basically it is just a mix of rice vinegar, sesame oil, quality peanut butter, crushed garlic, sesame seeds, and cayenne pepper.
Just don't use a non-nutritional oil such as vegetable oil and don't use a sugar-laddened peanut butter.
Every ingredient here brings nutrition to the dish, so should the oil and peanut butter.
If you don't have sesame oil, you can use olive oil or avocado oil instead. And use a quality peanut butter that is only peanuts, no added sugars or salts. I use Whole Food's 365 brand or use your own favorite.
How To Make Thai Asian Salad Lettuce Wraps
These are best made the night before so the flavors have the evening to make friend's overnight in the refrigerator.
The cayenne pepper dims down and doesn't take over all the flavors.
The basil, parsley and peanut flavors shine the next day. Plus eating it chilled on those buttery leaves is literally a party in the mouth.
Make This Thai Salad Recipe Step by Step
First boil the spaghetti. Boil it until al dente. You want the spaghetti with a bit of structure. In fact, mine broke into short noodle length bits as I mixed the salad together which worked even better with a spoonable salad.
While the pasta is boiling, make the sauce. Put the peanut butter in a pyrex measuring cup and microwave it to soften it for 30 seconds. Then peel and pulverize the garlic with the back of a spoon or mortar and pestal. Mix all ingredients in with the peanut butter.
Rinse the pasta, submerge it in a pot of cold water to cool it fast. Then put the pasta in your final serving bowl, and toss it with the sauce. It will thickly coat the pasta. Put the bowl in the refrigerator while you chop the veggies.
Then get to chopping and dicing that long list of greens the best way you know how.
I hand-chopped with a small knife the green onions, basil and parsley. And I used a shredding blade my food processor to shred purple cabbage, cauliflower, red, yellow and orange peppers, and carrots.
Putting the Thai Salad All Together
Mix the chopped greens in with the sauce-coated pasta until the veggies are also well coated with the sauce. Sprinkle on pine nuts, sesame seeds and cashews..
Refrigerate the mixture overnight. Spoon the mixture on to individual Boston butter leaves or romaine leaves, set them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet nd keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Yum. I bet you can't eat just one. I just ate three writing this up, haha.
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Thai Salad Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
- 4 ounces chickpea pasta
- 1 cup white cauliflower riced
- 1 cup purple cabbage shredded
- 8 green onions stems cut into tiny circles
- 1 carrot shredded
- 1 red pepper chopped
- 1 yellow pepper chopped
- 1 orange pepper chopped
- ½ cup cilantro chopped
- ½ cup basil leaves chopped
- ½ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup cashews
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
- 2 tbsp healthy peanut butter
- 3 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- pinch black pepper
- pinch salt
Make the Peanut Sauce
- While the pasta is boiling, mix up the peanut sauce. Peel and crush the garlic cloves with a spoon or garlic press.
Make the Pasta
- Boil the pasta until al dente. Submerge in a pot of icy water to cool it fast. Toss it with the peanut sauce.
Make the Thai Salad
- Chop and shred all remaining veggies. Toss them in with the pasta and sauce until all are coated.
- Sprinkle on the pine nuts, cashews and sesame seeds and toss again.
Serving & Storing the Salad and Wraps
- Spoon about 2-3 tbsp on each lettuce leaf. Refrigerate until ready to serve. When spooned onto leaves, the wraps last about 1 day without wilting.
- The salad however will last at least 3 days in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Dee Dine is founder of Green Smoothie Gourmet, a plant based recipe blog, and author of the recent cookbook, Crazy Healthy with 4 Ingredients and another immunity-boosting smoothie shot book, 4-Ingredient Smoothies + Juices , due out in January 2021. On this blog you'll find incredibly easy recipes with hidden veggies for anyone wanting to eat healthier, regardless of diet. Dee has graduate degrees in sciences and journalism, editor at The Feedfeed and a nutritional expert at WikiHow. More about Dee Dine here.