Breezy nights on the patio call for a fresh and light dinner, and this this citrus-scented rice noodle salad from Gail Simmons just screams (well, more like whispers) “summer.” If cooking isn’t on the agenda for the evening, you can make the rice noodles and dressing ahead of time, then assemble everything right before you eat. The shrimp is optional—the salad is filling enough without, or you can sub in grilled chicken, tofu or tempeh.
Lemongrass-Scented Rice Noodle Salad with Mint and Cilantro
Yield 4 servings
This light summer salad is full of fresh, citrusy flavors.
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 8 oz vermicelli rice noodles
- 4 1/4 cups Pure Leaf Unsweetened Iced Tea, divided
- 4 cups water
- 1 lemongrass stalk, peeled and trimmed into two 2–3 inch pieces, one half of pieces bruised using the back of a knife, one half finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, 10 stems reserved
- 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, half sliced, half finely chopped
- 2 small Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded and chopped or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks or shredded lengthwise on a mandoline
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks or shredded lengthwise on a mandoline
- 6 radishes, cut into matchsticks or shredded on a mandoline
- 1/4 cup mint, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, crushed
- 1 pound cooked shrimp or shredded rotisserie chicken, optional
- Heat canola oil in a medium sauté pan until just before smoking. In a shallow bowl, toss shallots with flour, shaking off any excess. Fry shallots in oil, stirring gently until golden, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Season immediately with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- In a large saucepan, combine 4 cups iced tea, water, bruised lemongrass, sliced ginger, 10 cilantro stems and remaining teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Add rice noodles and cook until just tender, about 7 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water until chilled. Shake out any excess water and spread noodles on a paper towel-lined tray.
- For dressing, combine reserved lemongrass, reserved ginger, chiles, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and remaining 1/4 cup iced tea in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth.
- Place noodles, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, mint, cilantro leaves and chicken or shrimp (if desired) in a large bowl. Add dressing to taste and toss well. Garnish with fried shallots and crushed peanuts before serving.
Any remaining dressing can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week and used on meat, fish and salads.
The perfect pairing for a summery patio dinner? Gail Simmons’ Charred Pomelo Twist mocktail with iced tea, grapefruit and smoked salt. Just add 2 oz. of mezcal or tequila to make it a cocktail.
Charred Pomelo Twist
Yield 2 drinks
Sip this summery drink that has notes of smokiness and citrus.
- Canola oil for grill
- 1 pink grapefruit, quartered
- 1/2 cup Pure Leaf Sweet Tea
- 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon fine smoked salt
- Optional: 2 oz. mezcal or tequila
- Heat a grill pan to medium high heat and brush with canola oil. Add quartered grapefruit, flesh side down, and grill until well charred, 2–3 minutes per cut side. Remove from grill and allow to cool.
- Juice grapefruit, straining seeds and reserving one juiced wedge. In a cocktail shaker, muddle together charred grapefruit juice and cilantro. Add Sweet Tea (and alcohol, if using) and plenty of ice and shake until well chilled.
- Rub the rim of two rocks glasses with the reserved grapefruit wedge. Spread the smoked salt on a plate and swirl the rims of each glass through the salt to coat. Add ice to glasses.
- Strain the grapefruit/tea mixture into the glasses. Garnish each with a few cilantro leaves and serve immediately.