In cooking, sometimes you go down one path and end up at a different destination than you intended. That is exactly what happened with this recipe, which benefits everyone reading as the end result is delicious and pretty darn easy to achieve. By easy, I mean weeknight meal. That said, this meal is also gorgeous, meaning it’s something to consider for guests as well. Summer pot luck? Hello.
What I thought I’d be writing about was spring rolls. Not the fried variety, but the kind wrapped in transparent rice paper. I even made a few. But, these are such a pain to make. Maybe if you make them regularly, they become easier. I do make the fried version with rice flour wrappers (they come frozen at many international markets) and I find them easy to make, but I’ve been making them since I was a kid. It was with this sense of certainty and understanding that I started this venture, to create fresh spring rolls, but I was so wrong. I will happily pay to pick these up as wetting each rice paper wrapper (for about 90 second each) and then trying not to puncture them when rolling up, proved doable, but slow. And I’m an impatient person.
After making seven of these rolls, and more than 30 minutes in on prep time plus roll time, I looked at the enormous amount of remaining ingredients and thought Why not just chop everything up, mix it together, and serve it? Five minutes later, dinner was ready and I was happy to have a new recipe to embrace. And it’s sooooooo good and perfectly light for summer.
This is a recipe that requires lots of chopping, but otherwise, not too much work. In fact, the dressing may look the most daunting simply because many people will see “fish sauce” and not continue. If this is you, find an Asian dressing you like and just use that … it will be fine. Everyone needs to give themselves grace in the kitchen. You can even chop most everything a couple of days in advance and then mix at the last minute (do not chop cucumbers early as they get slimy). Plus, rice noodles just need to soak in warm water for about 10 minutes to cook — you can’t get any easier than that.
For additional adaptation, pile some of the salad into large Bibb lettuce leaves:
I made this same salad another night, but this time I did not use the zucchini, and I did use edamame. I liked the edamame addition a lot.
I think pairing with a ginger beer cocktail, wine spritzer or glass of cucumber-mint water would make the perfect accompaniment. When summer’s heat and humidity suppresses your appetite, but it’s dinnertime, consider this recipe.
- NOTE: Add more or less vegetables as you desire. This recipe adapts easily to your individual taste.
- 2 cups chopped cabbage (I thinly slice the cabbage and then chop into approximately one inch pieces. I also use both green and red cabbage for the color. To make this easier, see if there is some pre-sliced cabbage at your local grocery store's salad bar.)
- ½ orange bell pepper, chopped
- ½ yellow bell pepper, chopped
- ½ red bell pepper, chopped
- ½ English cucumber (or seeded regular cucumber) sliced in half, then chopped
- 1 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
- Handful of pea shoots
- 20 leaves of mint, chopped
- 10 large leaves of basil, chopped
- 1 cup edamame
- Avocado (to garnish)
- Green onions (to garnish)
- Large leaves of Bibb lettuce (chopped if adding to salad, left whole if using to "wrap" the salad
- 1 pound shrimp, cooked, shelled, deveined and cut (lengthwise) in half
- 8 oz (approximately) thin rice noodles (found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce (found in the Asian section of the grocery store)
- 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- Juice of two limes squeezed
- 2 garlic cloves, minced (or ¼ tsp garlic powder)
- 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger powder)
- ¼ cup diced shallots
- First, soak your rice noodles in a bowl/pot of warm water. Then, make the dressing as it gets better the longer it stands. Combine all ingredients, stir and set aside.
- When you are finished making your dressing, your noodles are likely done. Rinse them with cold water so that they are no longer hot. Then, season the noodles with salt and black pepper to taste. Cut noodles into smaller pieces. (The easiest way to do this is with kitchen sheers — like 10 seconds easy!) Set aside.
- Chop all your vegetables. When complete, toss with the rice noodles and the dressing. Use the Bibb lettuce as wrappers for the salad (refer to photo), or you can chop and add to the salad. When complete, garnish with green onions, avocado and sliced lime as well as any leftover herbs.
Enjoy! If Asian salads are your thing, here is another one from our archives: Asian Summer Salad with a Ginger Lime Cocktail.
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