When I was introduced to Vietnamese food years ago, I was immediately taken with the incredible flavors of the simple dishes - aromatic rice, hot and sour soups, mild coconut-based curries, feathery noodles and Asian wraps. There is no mystery to this cuisine, just some easy techniques that turn simple ingredients into wonderful dishes.
This menu was inspired by Vietnamese summer rolls, also known as garden rolls. For convenience's sake, I've dispensed with the rice paper wrappers and turned the filling into a fresh and colorful salad. With the addition of glazed tofu, it goes from an appetizer to a satisfying meal. Finish it with the luxurious fresh mango soup jeweled with kiwi and strawberries, and you'll feel like you escaped to an exotic place without using any frequent flyer miles.
SUMMER ROLL SALAD WITH SHALLOT-PEANUT SAUCE
Serves 4 - Vegan
To streamline the cooking, roast the asparagus and the shallots for the peanut sauce at the
same time. Use fresh, wide rice noodles (from Asian markets) for the tastiest and best-looking
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil Salt to taste
4 oz. fettuccine-style rice noodles
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and thinly cut into matchsticks
2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro
2 Tbs. chopped fresh chives
1 bunch watercress, tough stems removed Shallot-Peanut Sauce
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts, chopped, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Cut asparagus into 2-inch diagonal slices. Toss with oil and pinch of salt. Spread on rimmed
baking sheet, and roast, stirring twice, until browned and fairly crispy, about 25 minutes. Transfer to large serving bowl, and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, bring pot of water to a boil. Add noodles, turn off heat and let stand 3 to 4
minutes until softened. Drain, and rinse under cold running water at least 30 seconds to
4. Add noodles, carrots and herbs to asparagus in bowl, and toss to mix. Arrange watercress
on individual plates. Mound noodles on watercress, and drizzle each serving with 2 Tbs.
Shallot-Peanut Sauce. Sprinkle with peanuts.
PER SERVING: 380 CAL; 10G PROT; 21G TOTAL FAT (4G SAT. FAT); 42G CARB; 0MG CHOL; 290MG SOD; 5G FIBER; 8G SUGARS