What could be more satisfying than a hearty, delicious salad on a sultry summer evening? Nutritious and hassle-free, salads provide the ideal template for an endless number of variations. Simply toss the vegetables in a bowl, divide onto plates, top with your chosen protein, and dinner is served.
Salads are a particularly good choice for diners avoiding gluten. This excellent Vietnamese-style chicken salad adds bulk and fiber with the addition of gluten-free Asian rice noodles.
This recipe can also be made with pantry staples, provided you stock the basics when it comes to stir-fries and other Asian favorites. Note that the cooking time is based on the assumption that the chicken breasts will be prepared ahead of time. If you’re starting from scratch, see the handy tip below.
With Vietnamese salads, it’s traditional to pour the dressing over the top and mix it in as you go. This recipe streamlines things by tossing all of the vegetables with the vinaigrette first, then topping the mixture with the chicken and other goodies. If you’re a stickler for tradition, the salad can also be left undressed, with the vinaigrette served on the side.
Finally, if allergy issues are a concern, feel free to eliminate the peanuts. They add a satisfying crunch and traditional flavor, but the salad will be no less delicious without them.
- 1/2 cup avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup tamari, or other gluten-free soy sauce
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- a few drops of hot chili oil, or a pinch of red pepper flakes
- 16 oz rice noodles
- 1 head of iceberg, romaine, or green leaf lettuce (about 6 cups), thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, matchsticks cut
- 2 cucumbers, sticks cut
- 1 red bell pepper, thin strips
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/2 cup chopped mint
- 1/2 cup ground or chopped roasted peanuts
- 4 to 8 lime or lemon wedges, for serving
- Combine all ingredients except avocado oil in a large stainless steel bowl.
- Whisk in the oil, beginning with one drop at a time, then progressing to a steady stream until the mixture thickens and all of the oil has been incorporated. (A blender or food processor can also be used for this step.)
- Cook the noodles in boiling water until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain, then place in an ice bath to cool. Remove noodles from ice bath and drain on paper towels.
- Toss rice noodles with 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette, then divide into 4 individual bowls.
- Toss together lettuce, carrots, cucumber, red pepper, and half the cilantro and mint with another 1/3 cup of vinaigrette. Divide into bowls on top of noodles.
- Top salads with chicken, peanuts, and the remaining herbs. Serve with lime wedges.
- If you don't have cooked chicken on hand, start with 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves. Whisk together 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, pinch of red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup avocado oil. Marinate for 2 to 4 hours, turning once. Grill or sauté until cooked through, then set aside.