My trip to Panera Bread and the Inevitable Salad Craving that Followed

Over the next few months I’ll be working on a project with Panera Bread (ok twist my arm, I LOVE Panera).  The first part of said project entailed heading over to my local sandwich shop and indulging in a fresh, healthy and downright delicious lunch.  And of course, lunch is always better with company, so I called up my friend Kim and invited her to join me.

I don’t know about you, but just the mere act of walking into Panera  makes me instantly hungry.  Delicious breads and pastries of all shapes and flavors line the counter.  It’s as though they are calling out my name as I stand there in line…. “Julie, eat me.  Please eat me.  You know how tasty I am.”  Yep, I definitely know how tasty you are and yes, some of you may just come home with me before everything is said and done.


While we were standing in line, my friend Kim told me a story about how when she first got her braces on a few months back, the only thing she was craving was a hot bowl of Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup.  I can completely see why.  When I saw it arrive at the table, I had the urge to sneak a bite when she wasn’t looking.  I mean seriously.  If that doesn’t get your tastebuds singing, nothing will.

Then they set my Thai Chopped Chicken Salad down in front of me and I instantly knew I made the right decision for my appetite that day.

The salad came topped with chicken, cashews, roasted edamame, peppers and carrots.  In addition it was sporting some of the cutest and most delicious looking little puffed up wonton pieces this side of the Mississippi.  To tie it all together, they had married the two flavors of Thai vinaigrette with a few splashes of peanut sauce for good measure.  Let’s just say I was one happy lunch lovin’ mommy.  If you don’t believe me take a look at the after shot.  It wasn’t pretty.

As luck would have it, I came home from lunch and haven’t stopped thinking about that salad since.  I decided that I absolutely had to see if I could recreate the culinary delight that I had experienced that day at Panera.  Here’s my attempt at greatness.

Ingredients needed for the salad:

1 head of Romaine Lettuce (I threw a little spinach in as well)
1 Pkg of Cooked up, Sliced up Chicken
1 cup of Edamame, Cooked and Cooled
1 Red Pepper, Chopped
1 Lg. Carrot, Chopped
1 Cup of Thai Spiced Cashews
12-15 Wonton Wrappers
2 Tbsp of Oil

To cook up the wonton croutons, all I did was to cut my wonton wrappers into thirds, wet the strips down, fold them in half, and seal.  Then I heated up my oil in a small frying pan and popped the wontons in to cook up.  They cook up quick so stay alert; about 5-10 seconds on each side is all you need.

Here are my finished wonton croutons.  I sprinkled them with a little garlic salt as well.  Just because.

Now we’ll move on to the dressings.  There are two of them for this salad and trust me, you want to make both.  Alone they are tasty but together, the flavors marry in such a beautiful way as to make you want lick your bowl clean once you’re finished.

For the sweet Thai Vinaigrette, I decided to surf around and see what recipes I could find.  What I came up with was THIS recipe from  Life’s Ambrosia.  Delicious, simple, make it now.  The only thing I adapted was to double the recipe and add a small squeeze of lime into it.

For the peanut dressing I have to say I winged it a bit using a “peanut dressing look alike” that I had posted a while back.  While originally intended as a chicken marinade, a few adjustments made it into a delicious dressing.  Let me say that by winging, I mean I tweeked a bit here and there until I got the flavor I liked.  So consider this recipe a skeleton and feel free to do the same.

2 tbsp of Plain Yogurt
2 tbsp of Peanut Butter
1/4 tsp of Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
1/4 tsp of Curry Powder
1 tsp of Ginger
1 Tbsp of Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
1 tsp of Lime  Juice
1/4 tsp of Sesame Oil
1 tsp of Water

Mix all the ingredients up and you’re ready to go.  To compile your salad, drop in your romaine/spinach and then add in your toppings; the chicken, cashews, pepper, edamame, carrot, and wontons.  Pour a little of each of the dressings over the top and prepare to discover your very own Panera Craving.

What do you say, you and me at Panera for lunch next week?

Print Save

Panera's Thai Chopped Chicken Salad

Ingredients:

For the salad:

1 head of Romaine Lettuce (I threw a little spinach in as well)
1 Pkg of Cooked up, Sliced up Chicken
1 cup of Edamame, Cooked and Cooled
1 Red Pepper, Chopped
1 Lg. Carrot, Chopped
1 Cup of Thai Spiced Cashews
12-15 Wonton Wrappers
2 Tbsp of Oil

For the Peanut Dressing

2 tbsp of Plain Yogurt
2 tbsp of Peanut Butter
1/4 tsp of Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp of Soy Sauce
1/4 tsp of Curry Powder
1 tsp of Ginger
1 Tbsp of Fresh Cilantro, Chopped
1 tsp of Lime Juice
1/4 tsp of Sesame Oil
1 tsp of Water

Directions:

To cook up the wonton croutons, all I did was to cut my wonton wrappers into thirds, wet the strips down, fold them in half, and seal. Then I heated up my oil in a small frying pan and popped the wontons in to cook up. They cook up quick so stay alert; about 5-10 seconds on each side is all you need.

Sprinkle them with a little garlic salt once their cooked for an added flavor boost.

For the dressing, mix all the ingredients up and you're ready to go.

To compile your salad, drop in your romaine/spinach and then add in your toppings; the chicken, cashews, pepper, edamame, carrot, and wontons. Pour a little of each of the dressings over the top and prepare to discover your very own Panera Craving.

*Recipe for sweet chili dressing found at Life's Ambrosia

Note:  I am currently working on an ongoing project with Panera Bread.  As a result, I have been compensated for my time and expenses, however my thoughts and opinions are completely my own.

  Pin It!

33 Responses to “My trip to Panera Bread and the Inevitable Salad Craving that Followed”

  1. 1

    Sanjeeta kk — January 24, 2011 @ 6:31 am

    What a lovely spread out there! Like the wonton croutons, and the colorful & healthy veggie salad.

  2. 2

    Jara — January 24, 2011 @ 10:45 am

    What a great recreation of a delicious looking salad. I often go out and get something to eat and continue to crave it after. Thanks for sharing!

  3. 3

    Faith — January 24, 2011 @ 11:11 am

    Julie,
    I do too share the love of Panera bread as well. Love your review. You have the ability to describe food very beautifully. I an taste the food as if I was there.

    The sald you’ve recreated looks great Julie. Now I know what I am going to have next time I go to Panera.

    Have a great week ahead.

  4. 4

    Katerina — January 24, 2011 @ 11:57 am

    I don’t know how the Panera salad tasted but yours look absolutely fabulous and tasty. I am sure you’ve enjoyed it a lot.

  5. 5

    Aimee — January 24, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

    Julie – I am so jealous that you are working on something with Panera! Their black bean soup recipe is the one I set all other black bean soup recipes by. So delicious…

  6. 6

    Ameena — January 24, 2011 @ 12:27 pm

    The wonton wrappers alone make me want to try this recipe – I love that shot! I don’t think that anyone can do salads as well as Panera except maybe CPK. But Panera will also hold a special place in my heart!! :)

  7. 7

    OK Chick — January 24, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

    I have not had or seen this salad. It looks so good. I’m almost tempted to leave the office and go pick it up for lunch. However, I think I need a Starbucks instead. It’s been a long morning.

  8. 8

    Joey @ Big Teeth & Clouds — January 24, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

    Wow. Reading this makes me so hungry!

  9. 9

    Apicius' Apprentice — January 24, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

    Your salad looks much better than theirs! There’s never enough green in the salads at my local panera. I’ll order one of your though… please? :p

  10. 10

    Juliana — January 24, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

    Nice salad Julie…love the idea of salad for meal…and sure yours have all one need in a meal…beautifully done :-)

  11. 11

    Anna Johnston — January 24, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

    I’m in love with the broccoli cheese soup in the bread roll idea…, fabulous & really gets the taste buds drooling. Love it. Mmm, like the little wonton chips too, cool idea.

  12. 12

    Mari's Cakes — January 24, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

    This is “the salad”! It looks delicious. I love it. The photos are great!

  13. 13

    Mari's Cakes — January 24, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

    This is “the salad”! It looks delicious. I love it. The photos are great!

  14. 14

    A little bit of everything — January 25, 2011 @ 12:42 am

    i love eating at Panera Bread too.

    thanks for the wonton croutons idea. sounds great.

    have a wonderful day Julie

  15. 15

    Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum — January 25, 2011 @ 7:00 am

    That soup is absolutely wonderful. My husband always orders it and I do not fight the urge to sneak a bite or two. I think he just knows now that if he orders it, he will be sharing at least 3 bites with me. :)

  16. 16

    Kulsum at JourneyKitchen — January 25, 2011 @ 7:50 am

    Didnt I leave a comment here yesterday? I thought I did? Anyway this is what I wanted to say ” I love the flavors here, some of fav things in the dressing. Great post!

  17. 17

    Biren @ Roti n Rice — January 25, 2011 @ 9:29 am

    Panera has some of the best grilled sandwiches and soup. I was there just recently and each time I will have their wildrice soup…yumm! I have not tried the Thai salad but your version looks awesome!

  18. 18

    Jami at Freckled Laundry — January 25, 2011 @ 9:40 am

    Oh yum! I’m excited for this little Panera series, Julie! Can you duplicate healthier versions? I can’t believe the amount of fat and stuff in their delicious salads. (We won’t even get into the soups & breads!) NOT that it would stop me from eating it. lol In fact, I’ll be making this tonight.

    I made your arroz con pollo & am trying to send you a photo. (Delicious!) I don’t have your other email since switching to a mac and the mommie cooks at yahoo email keeps coming back with an “account disabled” error. :(

    Hugs to you!
    Jami

  19. 19

    5 Star Foodie — January 25, 2011 @ 10:42 am

    Great job recreating that salad, it looks terrific for sure!

  20. 20

    anne — January 25, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

    I SOOOO wish I had a Panera Bread within 150 miles!!! Thanks for the Birthday well wishes as well! anne

  21. 21

    Emily Z — January 25, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

    I LOVE panera. LOVE it. Now I am craving it, thanks a lot! ;) That salad looks amazing, too. Your post has made me hungry all around!

  22. 22

    Maranda — January 25, 2011 @ 3:50 pm

    I’ll be there!!! I freaking love Panera!!!! The mac & cheese. Oh the mac & cheese…

  23. 23

    Tanvi@SinfullySpicy — January 25, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

    Wonton Croutons? I love the very sound of it :) The spread looks scrumptious especially th cheese soup in a bread bowl.All the best for your stint with Panera!

  24. 24

    rebecca — January 25, 2011 @ 9:37 pm

    love panerra as well but wish they cooked it on site, i mean the breads are just baked there we have a bakery here Ollies all from scratch

    but still its good esp when on the road,

    I will take your salad any day

  25. 25

    Monet — January 26, 2011 @ 12:29 am

    My first job in college was at Panera. I worked in the bakery, and I loved it! Even after spending hours in that store, I still feel all warm and fuzzy whenever I go in to order lunch or dinner. Thank you for sharing this salad, sweet friend. May the middle of your week be full of joy and laughter.

  26. 26

    Kim @ Quit Eating Out {Recipes to Make Dining Out a Choice, Not a Chore} — January 29, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

    My husband had this salad last time and it was awesome. Can’t wait to order it myself. However, my favorite drink is their Green Tea and I cannot figure out how to make it at home.

  27. 27

    Rita — January 31, 2011 @ 4:23 pm

    Hi Julie,
    I had lost you somehow! I have never tasted or heard of Heard of Panera, but when the word Bakery appeared I was in a trance. Thank salad looks wonderful and os does everything else. I am trying to catch up on what I lost here.

  28. 28

    gayle miller — May 12, 2011 @ 11:41 am

    I was just to panera bread last nite and had the salad (Thai) The mosts awsome salad I ever ate. So of course I wanted to duplicate the dressing and founds this web site. I wrote down the recipes and will make it. Can u use chinese noodles instead of wantons.

  29. 29

    kem — September 8, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

    I too love that salad. I currently work at panera and more than anything I love the roasted edamame blend I always take some home and snack on the blend by itself. I tried roasting some edamame, carrots and peppers myself and it just did not have the same taste. If you ever find a recipe to create that wonderful roasted taste please post!!

  30. 30

    Jeannie Parker — January 6, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

    Thanks for the idea! I had the Panera version for lunch today and looking for a way to duplicate! Will try! thanks! Love IT!

  31. 31

    Kelly — January 10, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

    THis sounds great! Curious though, does the recipe call for curry paste or curry powder?
    Thanks!

  32. 32

    Jenn — April 5, 2012 @ 8:46 am

    What a great recipe! We made it a few nights ago and I’m sharing it on my blog today! Thanks!

  33. 33

    Cynthia — September 14, 2012 @ 10:34 am

    Thanks for the recipe. My husband and I absolutely love this salad and I have been trying to figure out how to do it at home.

Leave a Comment