It is officially spring here in the south of France. Sadly, I think most of my friends and family back at home can’t quite say the same. Snow and cold weather linger in the air of New England like a bad smell. But I hope that daffodils are heading your way soon!
Meanwhile, in the sunny south of France we have had an amazing spring – one that began in February which is normally our coldest month. With the change of weather comes a change of diet. No more need to warm our bones with stews and ragus. Dogs are ready to shed their winter coats and we are ready to shed our winter weight.
This salad is a good segway into summer eating. It’s a great lunch and hearty enough for dinner. If the crisp air of spring won’t allow you yet to dive into a bowl of greens and call it a meal then this salad can lead the way.
My favorite thing about this dish is that it can be made on a Sunday and enjoyed most of the week – a nice healthy alternative to have waiting for you in the fridge. Because it’s made with noodles and crunchy vegetables it doesn’t get soggy. In fact it tastes better after it has sat in the fridge for a bit and the noodles have had a chance to soak up the flavor of the dressing.
In this recipe I have made it with rice noodles but you can use bean noodles, soba, udon or even spaghetti! Whatever you fancy. I like mine heavy on the vegetables and lighter on the noodles but entirely up to you. And pile on the herbs! The best way to make a salad taste fresh and vibrant (and not like rabbit food) is to throw in fresh herbs – coriander (cilantro), mint and basil are my faves for this dish. I also love adding shelled edamame but don’t stress if you don’t have any handy.
So, even if you don’t have daffodils yet, give this vibrant salad a try. And maybe, in the words of Ray Liotta, …. “if you build it, they will come…”
- 6 oz (170g) rice vermicelli (or noodle of your choice)
- 4 cups (large handfuls) of mixed vegetables - cabbage, carrot, radish, bean sprouts, shredded
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- ½ bunch coriander (cilantro), coarsest chopped
- 1 large handful of mint, torn
- 3 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño, minced (alternatively add siracha or other hot sauce to dressing)
- 1-2 handfuls of chopped peanuts
- For Dressing:
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ cup (60ml) peanut or almond butter
- ¼ cup (60ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) honey or maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) toasted sesame oil
- A squirt of siracha sauce or pinch of cayenne (more if you don’t have jalapeño and want more kick)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Cook your noodles according to package directions. If using rice vermicelli soak them in boiling water for a couple of minutes until soft but still firm. Don’t over-soak.
- Place noodles, vegetables, pepper, coriander, mint, spring onions and jalapeño in a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy and well combined.
- Toss the salad ingredients with the dressing and pour into a serving bowl and sprinkle with peanuts and a handful of fresh herbs. Alternatively place in the refrigerator until ready to eat.