It's finally spring! With the snowstorm that came through last week, it doesn't quite feel like it yet but I'm hoping today's recipe will help usher us into the season of renewal. This rice noodle salad is all about bright, fresh flavors that will make you feel energized and ready to come out of winter hibernation and into the sun again.
We start off with a base of cool rice noodles, then add broccoli rabe that has been quickly blanched to mellow the spiciness but keep a slight crunch. Mix that with some garlic and dried shrimp which has been pan fried in oil, a few other veggies, and a medley of fresh herbs. And finally top it off with a salty, slightly sweet, brightly acidic dressing made from coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, and lemongrass. You can serve it as a side or add your favorite protein and make it a main meal, it's no less delicious either way.
Hope you guys enjoy this refreshing recipe. Do you have any fun spring plans? Phillip and I are jetting off to Tokyo for a week and a half at the end of march, so if y'all have any good recommendations please send them along. Our main goal is to eat as much as possible so I'm hoping to come back with a lot of food inspiration and new recipe ideas to share here. See you when I get back!
Thank you Andy Boy Broccoli Rabe for sponsoring this post! All photos, words, and opinions are my own.
Herbs are difficult to measure by volume, so the herb measurements below reflect a loosely packed amount. I have found that firmly packing them would result in the 1/3 cup being more like 2 tbsp, but to be honest I never really measure my herbs when cooking since they're such flexible ingredients and ultimately it's up to your personal taste. So go wild if you love them or scale back if you don't.
Asian grocery stores usually carry fish sauce, dried shrimp, and some of the harder to find ingredients. I also like to get my rice noodles there because they have a much wider variety to choose from than regular supermarkets/organic food stores.
Serves 4 to 6 as a side or starter.
For the dressing:
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup water
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp lime juice
2 & 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 & 1/2 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
1 Thai chili, thinly sliced
For the salad:
2 tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp dried shrimp, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 oz thin rice noodles
8 oz broccoli rabe, ends trimmed and roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, julienned
1/3 cup mint, roughly torn
1/3 cup Thai basil, roughly torn
2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Make the dressing by combining coconut milk, water, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, lemongrass, and Thai chili. Whisk well until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside while you make the salad.
Place oil in a small pan over medium heat. Once hot, add dried shrimp and garlic. Cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant but before the garlic starts browning. Transfer to a small heatproof bowl and set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add rice noodles and cook according to package instructions (usually 4-8 minutes depending on thickness), taking special care not to let the noodles overcook as they’ll go from done to mushy very quickly. In the last minute of cooking, add broccoli rabe.
When done, turn the heat off and immediately drain the noodles and broccoli rabe in a colander. Rinse thoroughly under cold water to prevent further cooking and remove any excess starch.
Place rice noodles, broccoli rabe, carrots, mint, basil, cilantro, and scallions in a large serving bowl or platter (reserving a small amount of mint and basil for garnish, if you wish). Add the shrimp/garlic oil and toss to coat.
When you are ready to serve, drizzle the dressing over the salad and give it a light toss. Top with peanuts and reserved herbs, and enjoy immediately. Alternatively, to prevent the noodles from getting soggy if not eating immediately, you can serve the salad undressed, letting your dining companions add their own dressing in the amount they desire.