Summer Salad That Isn’t Pizza: Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

I’ve been on a real salad kick lately. Mostly because I’d been working on my #pizzadiet (that’s pizza all day errday forever). I realized that while delicious, it’s not actually really that good for you. WHO KNEW?

I made one of my go-to favorites, the Zesty Taco Salad, earlier in the week.  But then I saw my buddies at Food52 post this link to the Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad and I knew I had to make it.

Just to be clear, I’m not actually buddies with the people at Food52. But, I pretend we’re friends since I follow them on Instagram and Facebook and love almost everything they do. Frankly, I’m better friends with them than some people I’m actually friends with on FB.

Anywho. This salad was so enticing that my friend Emily and I ran into each other at the store shopping for supplies (“I’m looking for napa cabbage.” “I’M looking for napa cabbage.” “Wait, what are you making…?”) After going to two stores to find the previously aforementioned napa cabbage, we both finally were able to make dinner. And to quote Emily again, it was pretty damn delicious.

If you have everything on hand, this is not only pretty damn delicious, but it’s a quick meal to assemble. It’s a meal that can be put together in the time it takes to boil water. Author’s note: this will happen much more quickly if you do not watch the pot.

This salad tastes like summer. It’s fresh and crisp, and with the dressing, sweet and spicy. There’s a ton of textures at play here, too. Rice noodles with just a bit of bite, crunchy cucumbers and cabbage, and plump shrimps.

In the nude

In the nude

Is it as good as pizza?

….no, cause what is. (RIP #pizzadiet)

But, it’s a pretty damn delicious meal.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad from Food52 Serves 2 to 3

The dressing

  • tablespoons fish sauce
  • tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons water, to taste
  • 1medium clove garlic, minced
  • fresh Thai (or bird’s eye) chile, minced | I couldn’t find one, so I used a serrano chile. Worked well! 
The salad

  • ounces thin rice noodles (roughly the width of linguine)
  • 3 or 4 napa cabbage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
  • medium carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks
  • ½ cucumber, halved, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • handful chopped fresh herbs, preferably a combination of basil, cilantro, and mint
  • ounces cooked meat or shrimp, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

To prepare the dressing, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, 6 tablespoons of the water, the garlic, and the chile. Whisk well. Taste: if it’s too pungent, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If you’d like more sweetness, add more brown sugar, 1/2 tablespoon at a time. Remember that you’re going to be putting this dressing on unsalted vegetables and noodles: you want the dressing to have a lot of flavor, but it shouldn’t knock you over. Pour into a serving bowl. (Covered and chilled, the dressing will keep for 3 days to a week.)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the rice noodles, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender but not mushy. Immediately drain the noodles into a colander, and rinse them well with cold water. Lay out a clean kitchen towel on the countertop, shake the colander to drain away excess water, and then spread the cooked noodles on the towel to drain further.
Divide the noodles between two or three good-sized bowls, depending on the number of diners, and top with the vegetables, herbs, and meat. Scatter the peanuts on top. Allow each person to spoon on dressing to taste. Toss well, and eat. (Alternatively, you can present this salad family-style: Toss the vegetables, herbs, and noodles in a mixing bowl and then mound them on a serving platter. Arrange the meat over the noodles, and top with peanuts. Each diner can scoop their own portion from the platter and dress it as they see fit.)
Read to Go [sic]

Read to Go [sic]

 

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