After years of unsuccessfully trying to roll a simple rice wrapper, today I finally tossed the remnants of my pitiful efforts into the garbage and made a quick deconstructed version instead. The end result might be one of my new favorite vegan and gluten-free lunches – the Vietnamese Spring Roll Salad!
By no means novel, this salad certainly fit the bill for me and highlights some mind-blowing Asian condiments I discovered in recent months – Tsang Bangkok Peanut Sauce and Japanese Rice Seasoning. Over the years, my kids have also grown to really love mung bean (or “glass” or “cellophane”) noodles tossed with a sesame oil and soy sauce dressing, so I tend to keep these ingredients pretty stocked up in the pantry, which came in handy today.
The bed of fluffy cool lettuce and crunchy vegetables tossed with sweet, pungent herbs of basil and mint are woven with strings of salty cold noodles and topped with extra cold, extra firm tofu right out of the fridge to make a really light lunch that is packed with protein. Glass noodles contain no sugar or cholesterol, and even though they are high in carbohydrates they have actually been proven to rate as a low-glycemic carbohydrate. If you’re note a fan of uncooked tofu, baked or fried would work or even edamame as an alternative – there’s no wrong way to do this. The best part is that the ingredients can be doubled or tripled and will last in the fridge all week.
- 2 cups chopped lettuce (any kind will work)
- 1 Persian cucumber or 1/2 seedless English cucumber, diced with skin on
- 1/2 red pepper, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 TB basil, chopped
- 1 TB mint, chopped
- 1/3 block of extra firm tofu, cut into 1” cubes
- 1/2 – 1 cup cooked Vermicelli “glass” mung bean noodles
- 1 TB soy sauce or tamari sauce
- 1 ts sesame oil
- 1 TB Bankgkok Peanut Sauce, diluted with 1 TB water to make a creamy salad dressing
- 1 TB Nori Komi Furikake Rice Seasoning
Boil noodles for 6 minutes on medium heat, then drain and immediately rinse under cold water to cool temperature. Keep in mind the noodles comes in dry blocks with 8 to a packet so you’ll likely need to cook one to two blocks at a time and keep the leftovers. Toss with the sesame oil and soy sauce and let sit while you prep the components of the salad. Slowly mix in the noodles, top with cubed tofu, rice seasoning and peanut dressing.
Today’s recipe is one of the BEST things I have eaten in a long time. I found it on the popular blog www.twopeasandtheirpod.com and thought it tied in nicely with this months Real Simple magazine feature about “health bowls” – combining fresh salad ingredients with unexpected flavors and grains. This Asian Quinoa Salad features some of my favorite ingredients, the only thing missing is potato chips. Because potato chips are amazing. I diverted from the original recipe and added some roasted unsalted peanuts for some extra crunch, and used my nifty food processor on the grater setting for the cabbage and carrots instead of chopping by hand. This delightful recipe tastes amazing for several days in the fridge and would be a popular potluck dish. And need I say VEGAN. And that is worth celebrating!
ASIAN QUINOA SALAD
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup shredder red cabbage
1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 diced cucumber
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup lite soy sauce or tamari sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Boil 2 cups of water then add 1 cup quinoa, cover and turn down to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add the cabbage, edamame, red pepper, peanuts, carrots, and cucumber. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, ginger, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the quinoa salad and stir to combine.
Well folks, it happened. Asher turned 3! The day before his birthday party we decided to visit the Kohl Children’s Museum where within the first hour he stumbled off one step from an exhibit, grabbed his leg crying, and screamed all the way downtown to the hospital. Where we strapped him down for x-rays. Where we learned that he had fractured his leg. And bandaged him up amongst a sea of doctors. While my mother stayed in the ER waiting room with our 8-month old, Everett. Then we found out we would need to give him sponge baths for a month. And I cried. And then we debated whether we should continue with the birthday celebrations. When I decided that a $70 pre-ordered cake is reason enough to continue with the partry. And then the next day, despite his pain and exhaustion and our lack of sanity, we celebrated anyway with a glorious Curious George-themed birthday party complete with cake, decor, party favors, and all of Asher’s favorite people in the world at his favorite playroom Kid City. Well it was a huge success, and Asher was so happy!
I will joyfully bookend this story with the fact that they now make water-proof casts.
When my mother arrived from Los Angeles that weekend I had to throw together a quick post-airport arrival dinner, and I opted for this delicious and easy Asian Salad which can be made up to a day in advance without the dressing. I opted for the Trader Joe’s Asian Dressing but you can also make your own salad dressing.
1 head Napa cabbage, roughly diced
1 bunch cilantro, roughly diced
1 bunch radishes, quartered
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1 bag frozen shelled edamame, thawed
Juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons powdered ginger
1 teaspoon powdered garlic
Pinch of salt
Birthday morning snuggles