What’s it called when you want something that tastes really, really good… but is also basically a high pile of fresh, vibrant, feel-good-in-your-body vegetables? You call it Cashew Crunch Salad, that’s what you call it.
This salad is checking all the boxes for me these days.
Lunch rolls around and my internal conversation goes like this:
- I’m hungry.
- What would taste awesome right now?
- No, wait, what would be super healthy right now? Because… mocha peanut butter pie?
- No, but what would actually fill me up?
- WAIT WAIT WAIT what about that salad with the sesame dressing that is awesome-tasting AND healthy AND keeps me full because it’s full of so many friendly fats and good stuff?
- Yes! I love salad!
- I love vegetables!
- I love life!
That’s an actual transcript of my internal dialogue. These are the terms I think in: tastes amazing, mostly healthy, still fills me up.
The dressing might be my favorite part of this mix-up.
It’s an oil-and-vinegar dressing that you can shake up in a jar, sweetened up with a little sugar, seasoned with a little sesame oil, and… if you are me… creamified with a dollop of Greek yogurt. I don’t know, for me, a vinaigrette-drenched salad just isn’t going to keep me full. I need a little more fat happening in my salads, so I just took my favorite retro dressing (shout out to Kim Harcey of the church cookbook) and creamied it up with that whole milk yogurt, or, even on some occasions, mayo.
For the vegans – leave out the creamy stuff!
For the gluten-free-ers – leave out the retro crunchy chow mein noodles!
For the protein-lovers – add some grilled chicken! Or shrimp! Or… I don’t know, tofu?! This quickly becomes a dinner entree salad with juicy grilled chicken sliced across the top.
I would not be sad if this was my lunch for the rest of the summer.
Gooooo team vegetables!
Watch how to make our Cashew Crunch Salad (1 min):
Cashew Crunch Salad with Sesame Dressing – this is the healthy summer recipe that makes me ACTUALLY WANT TO EAT A SALAD.
For the Salad:
- 1/2 head of green cabbage, finely shredded
- 1/2 head of purple cabbage, finely shredded
- 2 cups carrots, matchstick-cut or shredded
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup sliced green onion
- 2 cups cooked edamame (see notes)
- 1–2 cup roasted cashews (see notes)
- 2 cups crunchy chow mein noodles
- chicken, shrimp, or any other protein you like
- 1/4 cup olive oil (you can use any other oil as well)
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil – very important for flavor!
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- a few shakes of garlic powder
- optional: 1/4 cup Greek yogurt or mayo (more or less to taste)
- Shake the dressing ingredients up in a jar until smooth. Add the Greek yogurt or mayo (optional – just makes it more creamy) and shake again until smooth. YUM.
- Toss all the salad ingredients together. Drizzle with dressing and serve!
I like this salad just fine without chicken or shrimp… but if you do want to grill some chicken or shrimp to go with it (yummy), I recommend marinating it in soy sauce, honey, and garlic for a bit to give even more flavor.
If you are making this ahead, you can definitely chop and prep all the veggies in advance and even mix them together. I would just hold off on mixing in the chow mein, cashews, and dressing until just before serving.
I buy edamame frozen, already shelled, and just boil them for a few minutes like you would boil peas.
I like this salad with regular roasted cashews – I also lovee it with those super spicy, flavor-loaded Thai cashews from Trader Joe’s!
You can easily omit the Greek yogurt or mayo to keep this a vegan / dairy free salad! The dressing will be a little less thick (more like a vinaigrette), but it’s still totally delicious. For a creamy dairy-free alternative, you could try miso!
To make this gluten free, leave out the chow mein noodles.