Weeknight Yum Yum: Spring Roll Salad

Thursday, February 25, 2010

For dinner a few nights ago I was craving something lighter, something healthy, low carb and with bright but powerful flavors. That usually means I'm craving Asian so I went with it. One of my all-time favorite things to eat is a Vietnamese spring roll. They are light, healthy, and delightfully crunchy. So my inspiration came from that, and I give you a super easy weekday meal that will delight your family (even Trajan ate it) and won't break your budget.

And check out my notes at the end for some more time-saving tips!

Serves 2 large or 4 small portions

Spring Roll Salad with Asian Vinaigrette
1/2 pound cooked shrimp, tails removed
1/2 bag prewashed baby spinach
3/4 cup (a good handful) of snow peas
2 scallions, cut 1/2 inch thick on the diagonal
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup bean sprouts
Asian vinaigrette (recommended: Ken's)
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/3 cup dry-roasted peanuts (optional)
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Boil water in a small pot to cook the snow peas. When water comes to a boil, add a good pinch of salt (be careful - the salt will make the water bubble up violently for a second!). Add the snow peas all at once and cook until they turn bright green and puff up a little, about 5 minutes.

While the snow peas cook, assemble the rest of your salad.

Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl. Add the grated carrots, scallions, bean sprouts, shrimp, cilantro and mint. Once your snow peas are cooked, place them in a bowl of ice water to immediately stop the cooking process. This is called "shocking" the vegetables. This is done to stop them from continuing to cook while still retaining their bright green color. Once they're cooled off, drain them well add them to the salad.

Drizzle the salad with your favorite Asian vinaigrette to taste and toss. Sprinkle with the peanuts and sesame seeds if desired and serve.

My Notes:
You can certainly substitute leftover chicken if you like if you don't do shrimp.

For a hint of more sweet and bright flavor, add a can of drained mandarin oranges or a fresh orange segmented (that means peeled with a knife and then segments cut out).

If you don't do cilantro then double the mint.

If you have raw shrimp, then cook them in the water you've set for the snow peas before you put the snow peas in. Add the shrimp and cook for exactly 1-2 minutes depending on how large they are. Remove immediately to the ice bath. Then add your snow peas and cook them and you can add them to the same ice bath. Drain them together and add them both to the salad.

If you're planning to do this ahead, you can buy pre-cooked shrimp at the market. Just make sure you give it a rinse before eating!

To save time on carrots, you can buy a bag of pre-shredded carrots that can be found in the pre-packaged salad and salad kits area at your grocery store.

I LOVE Ken's Restaurant Asian Vinaigrette. If you can find that, then use it. It's a perfect combination of sweet, sour, spicy and tangy. If you can't find it, then use your favorite one. If you still can't, then try this simple Asian vinaigrette:

Asian Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp hot Chinese mustard (or Dijon)
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar (or mirin)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 Tbsp canola or peanut oil (or other neutral oil)
1 tsp sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a jar with closed lid and shake until combined. Or place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined. Can be stored in air-tight container for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

1 comment:

Ravenous Couple said...

nice interpretation on the spring roll!