It’s amazing that what seems like such a simple little salad with three easy steps (mix ingredients, cook vermicelli, add vermicelli) could be so deceptively involved. There’s a fair bit of prep work involved in this rice noodle salad from Didi Emmon’s Entertaining for a Veggie Planet: 250 Down-to-Earth Recipes, but the end result is a very light, refreshing Thai-inspired dish for hot summer nights. Though we live in Southern California, those first few hot days of the summer always come as a surprise, especially when they came in the waning days of April. We had been hiding indoors all day, air-conditioners blazing, and so this salad really hit the spot.
Prepping the watercress was a bit tedious (leaves plucked whole, stems finely chopped) and fleshing citrus fruits is always a chore. Luckily my beloved put a tutorial on his blog last summer- check it out for step-by-step instructions on the easiest way to separate the juicy flesh from those pesky membranes. So with all of these little tasks to do, this seemingly simple salad probably took me 35-45 minutes to prepare (but maybe the heat was just making me sluggish!).
The original recipe calls for peanuts, but given Dylan’s allergies, I substituted cashews. In the future, I would also put the flesh of two grapefruits (rather than one) in this salad for even more of a citrus burst. But should your fancies turn to other fruits, Didi Emmons also suggests trying pineapple, oranges, or mangoes. Just don’t skimp on the herbs, which give the salad its distinctive flavor.
Rice noodle salad with grapefruit, watercress, and cashews (serves 6)
1 large grapefruit, peeled, separated into segments, seeded and chopped
1 bunch watercress, leaves left whole, stems finely chopped
4 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup unsalted cashews (or peanuts), coarsely chopped
1-4 small skinny chile peppers, seeded and minced
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup lime juice (2 juicy limes)
2 tbsp canola oil
8 ounces rice vermicelli, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained well
kosher salt to taste
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all ingredients except vermicelli and toss until well-combined.
2. When the water boil, add vermicelli to the pot and return to a boil. Quickly drain the vermicelli and rinse with cold running water. Drain very well (or the salad will be watery).
3. Add the vermicelli to the grapefruit mixture and toss until well-combined. Season with salt and serve at room temperature or refridgerate and serve cold.