This recipe deserves a bit of a backstory as well … and I’ll write a separate entry on this another day. But, in brief, over the past month or so, I’ve been getting a “magic bounty” of organic veggies through a community share agriculture (CSA) program sponsored by Juniper Farms located near Wakefield, Quebec. This is my first foray into CSA’s and I must say, it’s been amazing. Outstanding quality produce. What’s been most fun about it, though, has been the cullinary challenge this magic bag of veggies presents every two weeks. It really changes how I have had to cook this past 6 weeks — which isn’t bad or good, necessarily, but just a fun change in how I approach one of my great pleasures ….
So, to conclude the backstory, I had still to use up a head of Napa cabbage and a couple of Daikon radishes in my crisper. In my head, I remember someone once preparing a yummy napa salad that had crispy ramen noodles on top. So, not likely to ever cook with ramen noodles, still, the taste was memorable, so taking this as my inspiration, I wanted to make something that paid homage to this simple little dish yet inject the substance of nutrition at the same time. This is what I came up with ….
Note: I had some pulled pork I had previously made for a borscht (another story) in the freezer that I used for this dish.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8 dinner servings
1 head of Napa cabbage (approximately 1-1½ lbs), julienned
¾ cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 sweet red bell-pepper, julienned
1 cup of broccoli florets (approximately 1 head)
2 Tablespoons ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ lb rice vermicelli
½ cup Daikon radishes, julienned (approximately 2 medium radishes)
4 green onions, julienned into 2″ slivers
Optional: ½ lb or more pulled pork, sautéed pork loin, chicken, shrimp or even smoked tofu. Use your imagination and pick your protein, if you want protein in the salad, or eat vegetarian — your choice.
Dressing Ingredients: (makes 1 cup)
1/3 cup, roasted almond oil (or any other nut oil)
3-4 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or rice vinegar)
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed limejuice
3-4 Tablespoons brown sugar
2½ Tablespoons dark soy sauce
1/8 teaspoons chili paste (to taste)
- Bring pot of water to boil. While you prepare broccoli then blanche the broccoli for 2 minutes. Remove from water with Chinese wire-strainer and run under cold water.
→ Do not dump the water.
- Return water to boil and place vermicelli in the water, following directions (about 5 minutes) until soft but still a bit of bite. Drain water, and immerse noodles in cold water to arrest cooking. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, toast the almonds in sauté pan over medium heat. When lightly browned, remove from pan, and set aside. These are for topping.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in pan (e.g. olive oil and/or almond oil) and then add sweet red bell-pepper, and sauté over medium-high heat until lightly carmelized. Add ginger and garlic and saute 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and let cool.
- When all ingredients are cool, combine all salad ingredients — except almonds — in a large stainless salad bowl and mix well.NB: If you are not going to serve all the salad, I suggest you portion the extra servings in bowls and put in the fridge without the dressing.
- Prepare dressing by combining all dressing ingredients together in a measuring cup. You’ll know you’re in the right ballpark if you produce a cup of dressing. Mix well!
→ Adjust for sweet (sugar), salty (soy sauce), sour (lime) and spice (chili) to your taste.
- Pour just enough dressing over salad mixture to coat and to taste. Reserve extra sauce for another day or for leftovers. Dressing will keep, refrigerated, a few weeks.
- Serve out salad and top with reserved almonds.