Friday, February 11, 2011

Thai Rice Noodle Salad

It's always nice to have an easy healthy dish that can go either way, with meat and without meat.  I started making this salad last summer and fell in love with it; it’s so easy, I can nearly make it in my sleep.  I never had used rice noodles before, but started experimenting with them when we had to keep gluten to a minimum.  And, I love them!  It is preferable to use brown rice noodles, but they are not available everywhere (yet).  You can make this with any combination of greens you have on hand. 
1 package Pad Thai style brown rice noodles
1/2 head napa cabbage, chopped
1/2 head red cabbage, chipped
1 english cucumber, quarted length-wise and then sliced
1 cup chopped daikon radish
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 bunch dandelion greens, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon wheat-free tamari
1 teaspoon agave
1 - 2 teaspoons brown rice vinegar
1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
red pepper flakes, sambal, or Chinese hot chili sauce (Sriacha)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated using a microplane (or fine holes of a box grater)
Bring a large dutch oven (or other large pot) full of water to a boil and shut off the heat.  Immediately drop in the rice noodles and stir to prevent the noodles sticking on the bottom.  Let sit in the hot water for about 5 - 6 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  Taste the noodles for doneness by eating one - should be al dente.  When done, pour into a large colander and rinse very well with cold tap water. 
Meanwhile, dump all of the chopped greens and veggies into a very large bowl.  In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.  If you don’t have ume plum vinegar, just use all brown rice vinegar, but try to find the ume plum – it adds a special brightness to the dressing.  Taste the dressing and adjust to your taste.
Add the cooled, rinsed noodles and the dressing to the greens and veggies.  Mix together and let the salad sit for at least 30 minutes to soften the veggies and greens.   If desired, serve salad with sliced chicken breast, pork loin (below), or cooked shrimp as an option.
Additional Ideas:
- flat leaf parsley instead of cilantro
- substitute celery and / or red radishes and/or red pepper for the daikon
- dandelion greens are difficult to fine in some areas - but they are so healthy (a great tonic for the liver) that it's worth the effort to find
- substitute chard and / or spinach for the greens listed in the recipe
- if you don't want any spiciness leave out the red pepper flake and add some freshly ground black pepper
Meat Option:
Marinate 2 -4 boneless, skinless chicken breast or 2 pork tenderloin in the following:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons hot chili sauce (Sriaccha) or sambal (optional)
Marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or a few hours in the refrigerator.
Remove meat from the marinade, grill or broil until done.

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