I’m always looking for Shabbat main dishes, they need to really be everything to all people, delicious – obviously, but also they need to be low maintenance on the day, be tasty at room temperature. As much as I love traditional cholent and kugel, seeing as we are doing a lot of alfresco dining recently – the cholent and kugel feel slightly out of place.

None of us are strangers to the main dish salad – I have made the one below for years and years, but with sliced grilled chicken breast. That is until I came across a recipe for Vietnamese meatball salad, and thought why not attempt the same principle of chicken salad with meatballs and a whole new set of dishes opened up! Not every chicken salad will be able to handle meatballs, instead you will need some bold flavors and textures in the salad and dressing to balance the dish, but here we have the perfect flavor combination. And if you still aren’t convinced, by all means, use grilled chicken breast instead – either way it’s a winning dish!

For the meatballs:

  • 450g (1 lbs) mince beef
  • 1 egg
  • 35g (2 tablespoons) matza meal
  • ½ tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the dressing:

  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice from 3 to 4 limes
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 small cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)

For the salad:

  • 1 British (hothouse) cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and cut on the diagonal very thin (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium carrot, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and cut on the diagonal very thin (about 1 cup)
  • 4 green onions (scallions), white and green parts, sliced thin on the diagonal
  • ¼ cup coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • ½ cup chopped salted peanuts

To make the meatballs:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the minced beef, egg, matzah meal, ketchup, mustard, salt, and pepper to taste. Shape the beef into small (1-inch diameter) balls.
  2. Once all the meatballs are shaped, heat oil in a large saute pan, over medium heat fry the meatballs, on all sides until the meatballs are evenly browned on the outside (they will cook further in the sauce) do this step in at least two if not three batches depending on the size of your pan, as you do not want to overcrowd the pan. Remove from the pan and set aside.

For dressing:

  1. Puree oil, peanut butter, lime juice, water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes (if using) in a blender until combined (Dressing may be made ahead of time, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Whisk to recombine before using.)

To assemble salad:

  1. Heat the meatballs until just warm but not hot.
  2. Taste the dressing and adjust the salt.
  3. Place the cucumber, carrot, green onions (scallions), and coriander (cilantro) on a large bowl; toss with peanut butter dressing until combined.
  4. Add the meatballs on top, sprinkle with peanuts. Serve immediately.