Rainbow Crunch Salad with Almond Butter Dressing (Paleo, Whole30)

This Rainbow Crunch Salad with Almond Butter Dressing is a bowl of fresh, vibrant flavors and textures.

Crunchy veggies, fresh herbs and chewy dried apricots are coated in a thick, creamy almond butter-based dressing.

Plus it’s naturally vegan, dairy-free, Paleo and Whole30 friendly!

a big white bowl full of peppers, carrots, cucumbers, dried apricots, fresh herbs and sliced almonds next to a mason jar with an almond butter dressing

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Rainbow Crunch Salad with Almond Butter Dressing

Salads get a bum rap for being boring or not filling enough.

That’s why I love salads like this Rainbow Crunch Salad.

Red and yellow bell peppers, carrots and cucumbers provide colorful, juicy crunch.

Fresh herbs, scallions, sliced almonds and dried apricots add more flavors and textures.

And then it’s all coated with a nutty, creamy dressing thickened with almond butter and kissed with lime juice, ginger and sesame oil.

Who needs lettuce? When you’ve got all these ingredients, you don’t need to bother with boring ol’ iceberg or Romaine.

This simple crunchy salad recipe needs just a bit of chopping, slicing and mixing and you’re all set.

Want to make it a full meal? Serve it with chicken, pork or shrimp.

 

What you need for this Rainbow Crunch Salad with Almond Butter Dressing

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup almond butter (I use creamy but you can use crunchy if you want more texture)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice (from about 5-6 limes)
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (from about 4″ piece of ginger)
  • 1 teaspoons sesame oil (toasted or plain)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • black pepper, to taste

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • 4 carrots (preferably on the thick side)
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 cup of fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, basil or mint (or a combination)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Equipment:

 

How to make this Rainbow Crunch Salad with Almond Butter Dressing

First, make the dressing: mix all the ingredients together until you get a thick, creamy dressing.

You can do this either by whisking them in a medium mixing bowl or adding them all to a mason jar, screwing on the lid and shaking it vigorously.

Give it a quick taste. The flavors might be very strong but that’s because they’ll get diluted once they’re spread out over a salad.

If you don’t taste much, whisk in a bit more salt or any of the flavors you think it’s missing.

For the salad: If you need to toast the sliced almonds, add them to a cold, dry skillet. Place over medium heat and let cook, stirring or tossing occasionally, until they start to turn golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add to a large mixing bowl.

De-seed the peppers and cut them into long strips, then cut those strips in half crosswise.

Peel and trim the carrots, then cut into thin coins. If parts of the carrots are very narrow, cut them into 1″ chunks until you get to the part of the carrot wide enough to slice into coins.

Trim the ends off the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise then cut into thin half-moons.

a cutting board with sliced bell peppers, cucumbers and carrots on it

Add all the vegetables to the large mixing bowl.

Roughly chop the herbs. Halve or quarter (depending on their size) the dried apricots. Add both to the mixing bowl.

Toss the vegetables with the sea salt.

Then dollop most of the dressing onto the salad and give it a good toss until everything is evenly coated.

Give it a taste to see if it needs more of anything.

If you think it needs more dressing, add the rest of the dressing and toss the salad again.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

a big white bowl full of peppers, carrots, cucumbers, dried apricots, fresh herbs and sliced almonds coated in an almond butter vinaigrette

Make ahead and storage

The dressing can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in the fridge.

The peppers and carrots can be sliced and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.

The almonds can be toasted and kept in the fridge for up to a month.

The cucumber, herbs and dried apricots should all be prepped right before serving.

Do not assemble the salad ahead of time or it will get watery and soggy. It is best eaten immediately.

 

Substitutions and variations

  • You can use any nut or seed butter: peanut butter, sunbutter, tahini, etc.
  • You can also use my Tahini Date Dressing instead of the Almond Butter Dressing
  • You can use lemon zest/juice or orange zest/juice in place of the lime.
  • No fresh citrus? Use the same amount of unseasoned rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  • If you want to make the salad nut-free: use sunbutter or tahini in the dressing and swap out the almonds for pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or toasted sesame seeds.
  • If you want a spicy almond butter dressing, add red pepper flakes.
  • Feel free to play around with the vegetables. If you want even more color, add 1/4-1/2 head of purple cabbage, thinly sliced. Don’t like carrots? Leave them out and add one orange bell pepper instead. Don’t like bell peppers? Try halved cherry tomatoes and sliced summer squash instead. Want to leave out the cucumber? Use roughly chopped sugar snap peas in its place.
  • Make it a full meal by adding chicken, pork or shrimp.

 

Other recipes you might like:

  1. Tahini Date Dressing
  2. Strawberry, Cucumber and Arugula Salad with Yogurt Poppy Seed Dressing
  3. Citrus Avocado Salad
  4. Red, White and Blue Salad
  5. Peach, Avocado and Bacon Salad
  6. Peach, Prosciutto and Burrata Salad

 

a big white bowl full of peppers, carrots, cucumbers, dried apricots, fresh herbs and sliced almonds next to a mason jar with an almond butter dressing
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Rainbow Crunch Salad with Almond Butter Dressing (Paleo, Whole30)

Packed with color, flavor and texture, this Rainbow Crunch Salad with Almond Butter Dressing is a vibrant bowl of goodness! Crunchy vegetables, fresh herbs and dried fruit are coated in a thick, creamy dressing. Plus it's naturally vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo and Whole30 friendly!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time23 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: almond butter, crunchy salad, healthy salad, rainbow salad
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Don Baiocchi

Ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup creamy almond butter
  • 6 tablespoons lime juice (from about 5-6 limes), plus the zest of 1 lime
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (from approx. 4" ginger root)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (toasted or plain)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 4 large carrots
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh herbs such as cilantro, parsley, basil or mint
  • ½ cup dried apricots
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions

Make the dressing:

  • Mix all the ingredients together until you get a thick, creamy dressing. You can do this either by whisking them in a medium mixing bowl or adding them all to a mason jar, screwing on the lid and shaking it vigorously. Give it a taste. The flavors might be very strong but that's because they'll get diluted once they're spread out over a salad. If you don't taste much, whisk in a bit more salt or any of the flavors you think it's missing. Set aside.

Make the salad:

  • If the sliced almonds aren't already toasted, add them to a cold, dry skillet. Place over medium heat and let cook, stirring or tossing occasionally, until they become golden brown and smell like popcorn, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the almonds to a large mixing bowl.
  • Peel and trim the carrots, then slice into thin coins. If parts of the carrots are very narrow, cut them into 1" chunks until you get to the part of the carrot wide enough to slice into coins. Add to the bowl.
  • Trim the ends off the scallions and discard any wilted parts. Thinly slice the scallions and add to the bowl.
  • De-seed the peppers and cut them into long strips, then cut those strips in half crosswise. Add to the bowl.
  • Trim the ends off the cucumber, cut in half lengthwise then cut into thin half-moons. Add to the bowl.
  • Roughly chop the herbs. Halve or quarter the dried apricots, depending on their size and... you guessed it!...add to the bowl.
  • Toss the vegetables with the ¾ teaspoon sea salt, then dollop on most of the dressing and toss until everything is evenly coated. If necessary, add the rest of the dressing and toss again. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately.

Notes

Make ahead and storage
The dressing can be made up to 5 days in advance and stored in the fridge.
The peppers and carrots can be sliced and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.
The almonds can be toasted and kept in the fridge for up to a month.
The cucumber, herbs and dried apricots should all be prepped right before serving.
Do not assemble the salad ahead of time or it will get watery and soggy. It is best eaten immediately.
Substitutions and variations
  • You can use any nut or seed butter: peanut butter, sunbutter, tahini, etc.
  • You can use lemon zest/juice or orange zest/juice in place of the lime.
  • No fresh citrus? Use the same amount of unseasoned rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  • If you want to make the salad nut-free: use sunbutter or tahini in the dressing and swap out the almonds for pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or toasted sesame seeds.
  • If you want a spicy almond butter dressing, add red pepper flakes.
  • Feel free to play around with the vegetables. If you want even more color, add 1/4-1/2 head of purple cabbage, thinly sliced. Don't like carrots? Leave them out and add one orange bell pepper instead. Don't like bell peppers? Try halved cherry tomatoes and sliced summer squash instead. Want to leave out the cucumber? Use roughly chopped sugar snap peas in its place.
  • Make it a full meal by adding chicken, pork or shrimp.

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