Vegetarian Gado Gado (Veggie Salad + Peanut Sauce)

On Thursday, there was a knock on the door. A parcel. The labelling hinted that something tasty lay inside, but I dared not hope: could it be cheese? It was! Four glorious French varieties, two pounds in all. A delicious gift from my sister and brother-in-law, for me.

My first feeling was glee: Four incredible cheese experiences awaited me! I exclaimed, I waved my hands around in excitement. But just as I bent my knees for a victory jump, the fear crept in.

_MG_0180.jpgI felt…heavier. And I undoubtedly was. Because earlier that week, moderation had gone on a little holiday and four-cheese lasagna, pie, ice cream, and a lot of cheesecake dropped by to take its place. And now there was this cheese. And it would have to be eaten fast – I’m heading back to Canada in two weeks where, alas, my cheese isn’t welcome. But if I were to pile it onto my existing, terrible diet it would spell certain death. And what a horrible shame it would be to kick the bucket before polishing off the chèvre.

And so, my travelling companion (and now my fellow cheese-eater) and I took a vow of sort-of moderation. Apart from the cheese, the next two weeks will be about vegetables and not much else. But a dinner of, say, lettuce, virtuous though it may be, doesn’t make for compelling blog reading. In short, I needed an interesting salad.

gado-duo-text.jpgWhich brings us to gado-gado. In a nutshell, this Sudanese/Indonesian salad is a mix of easy-to-find veggies, vegetarian protein and peanut sauce, all prepared simply. The potatoes and beans are steamed, the crunchier vegetables – cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes – are raw, the sauce can be whisked together in a matter of minutes.

The bit of reading I’ve done suggests that no one recipe reigns supreme, so feel free to switch up some of the veggies, doctor the peanut sauce, and bulk up the protein by adding tofu or tempeh in addition to the eggs. Or make it easy on yourself and stick with the recipe as written – it’s simple, but wholly satisfying, even without the promise of a post-dinner cheese plate.

Vegetarian Gado Gado 
Adapted loosely from Jamie Oliver’s gado-gado
Serves 2-3 

Note: Bean sprouts are a common gado-gado addition, but we couldn’t track them down. If you’re a sprout fan, toss in some sprouts in place of an equal quantity of the green beans. You can also add a half-pound of firm tofu or tempeh, cut into bite-sized pieces and fried in a tablespoon or so of sesame oil. 


For the peanut sauce
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/3 cup warm water
1 tbsp lime juice (about half a lime)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 clove of garlic, minced or grated
1-2 dried red chilies or 1-2 tsp sriracha (to suit your spiciness preferences)
1/2 tsp brown sugar

For the salad (all veggies below should be washed!)
1.5 cups of red potatoes, cut into bite-sized (~1 inch) pieces
3 handfuls of green beans, ends removed, super-long ones cut in half
2-3 eggs
2 large leaves of green cabbage, super-thinly sliced
4-6 cocktail or campari tomatoes, quartered*
4-6 radishes, cut into eights*
1/2 cucumber, cut into half lengthwise and then cut into ~1-inch slices
A loose 1/2 cup of cilantro leaves

To Serve: Fresh limes


First up, make your sauce: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, warm water, lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, chilies/sriracha and brown sugar. Taste and add more lime, soy, sriracha or sugar as you see fit.

Next, prep your salad: Bring a large pot of water (about 3/4 full) to a boil over high heat. Carefully add your potatoes and 1 tsp of salt and boil until the potatoes are almost cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Add your green beans to the pot and cook for another minute or two, until the beans and potatoes are tender. Drain off the water.

While your potatoes are cooking, hard boil your eggs: Place the eggs in medium-sized pot and fill with enough water to cover them by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water has boiled, turn off the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Let the eggs sit in the hot water for 6 minutes, then rinse them in cool water and peel and quarter them.

Finally, put it all together: Divide the potatoes, beans, eggs, cabbage, tomatoes, radishes, cucumber and cilantro leaves evenly between 2-3 bowls or large plates (however many servings you’re putting together) and season everything with a few pinches of salt. Evenly distribute the peanut sauce overtop. Serve with a few extra wedges of lime. And that’s it!

*If you can’t find cocktail/campari tomatoes (those slightly smaller-than-average, super-juicy tomatoes that tend to be sold on the vine), substitute about 3/4 cup of the tastiest tomatoes you can easily track down, cut into bite-sized pieces. 

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