Saturday, April 18, 2009

RICE STICK NOODLE SALAD


RICE STICK NOODLE SALAD
Serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as an appetizer

I'm always looking for recipes for main dish salads I can take to potlucks. You can make this in advance and just add the dressing at serving time. The dressing is pretty mild to appeal to adults and children and you can use cooked edamame or cashew halves instead of tofu for the protein if you are worried that your guests won't eat tofu. Iceberg lettuce or Savoy cabbage can be substituted for the bok choy but I really love the sweetness of raw bok choy.



NOTE ABOUT THE NOODLES:

I've seen Thai chefs say that rice noodles, especially thin ones like the ones used here, shouldnever be boiled. They simply put the noodles in hot water for about an hour or so until soft. The package of the noodles I bought (Instant Rice Sticks) says to cook for 2 minutes. Neither method works to completely soften the noodles for me but that might be my altitude (about 7000 feet). Rice noodles can overcook quickly and become a gummy, sticky mess though so whatever method you use keep an eye on them and remove them from the water once they are just tender.

DRESSING:

1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. diced or grated fresh gingeroot
2 tsp. agave nectar
2 Tbsp. unsalted peanut butter
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. canola oil
1/4 cup water

Whisk all ingredients together until peanut butter is completely incorporated. Makes about 2/3 cup dressing.

TOFU:

15 oz. organic firm tofu, drained
1-2 Tbsp. canola oil
Cut tofu in half lengthwise then cut into 8 slices vertically. Cut each piece diagonally to make triangles. In wok over medium-high heat cook tofu on each side until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel.

RICE STICK NOODLES:

5 oz. rice stick noodles or rice vermicelli
Cook noodles in boiling water for 3-5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and rinse in cold water. Drain again and let cool slightly before assembling salad.

SALAD:

2 small baby bok choys, shredded (about 4 cups)
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
6 scallions, diced
1 small carrot, peeled and grated

GARNISH:
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

To assemble salad, arrange bok choy on serving platter. Top with noodles, then tofu and vegetables. Garnish and combine with dressing immediately before serving.







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