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In the heat of the summer, there are times when I’m hungry, but I simply don’t want to eat.  On days like these, something light, preferably with lots of fresh, seasonal veggies is what appeals most.  So, the answer to that nagging “what’s for dinner” question? My take on a Vietnamese Salad. (As an added bonus, when you prep the veggies for this salad, you end up with lots leftover, which can be used in a variety of recipes. I love cooking this way!)

Ahhh, summer. The front porch, homemade salad with oil-free dressing. Cocktail off to the side. Tank tops. No makeup. I love summer.

Asian Salad:

Now, I need to disclose that this is only a suggestion for what to use.  I always combine a variety of hard lettuces, onion and carrots.  Sometimes I add shiitake mushrooms, plum tomatoes, raw zucchini and steamed asparagus, but I always make more than I need so I can use the base salad (without the cucumbers) for stir fry and soup. So, the beginning effort of chopping, which I leave to my food processor, yields big results all week long. This also happens to be the exact same filling I use for spring rolls, just roll in rice paper.

This recipe will yield enough salad for a dinner-sized portion for 8-10 people (or leave you enough leftovers for the above mentioned stir fry and soup)

  • 1 whole napa cabbage, shredded
  • 1/3 extra large green cabbage, shredded
  • 3 baby bok choy, shredded
  • 1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cucumbers cut in half, seeded and thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • chopped watercress, cilantro, mint and basil (a handful of each)
  • 1 cup chopped, roasted, salted peanuts
  • 2 pounds shrimp, chicken, pork – any or all
  • finish with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
  • Consider adding avocado, mango, pineapple and/or oranges as well

Mix or layer first (6) ingredients.  Top with cucumber, herbs, peanuts and protein.  Finish with dressing and sea salt.  For spicier salad add fresh, diced jalapeño peppers.


Vietnamese Dressing:

I use this dressing as a dipping sauce when I make spring rolls. It’s also great over salmon. But, as a salad dressing, with no oil, it’s perfect for summer.

  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ginger (I use the glass-jar variety)
  • 3 tbs (or 1 large) shallot
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper (about 1 large)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

Combine all ingredients and enjoy.



Ginger-Lime Cocktail

My secret, newly-discovered cocktail is a result of always squeezing a little too much lime juice for the above dressing. The juicer’s already dirty, right? So squeeze a few more, chop some extra mint along the way and voila!

Two servings:

  • Combine 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice with
  • 2 1/2  ounces of Domaine De Canton (ginger liqueur) and
  • 1 ounce of Cointreau
  • Finish with some chopped mint and ice
  • Add a slice of fresh jalapeño if you like the heat

YUM. Perfect paired with the above salad, sushi or enjoyed just because it’s hot outside.


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