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This fresh, healthy rice noodle salad is like a Vietnamese summer roll in a bowl — crisp vegetables, herbs and a spicy, tangy-sweet almond butter and lime dressing.
Okay, so you’ve made (and maybe already broken) those all those resolutions. No worries! Today is a perfect opportunity to hit the reset button on your diet, if you’re feeling so inclined.
Make this wholesome summer roll noodle bowl, a salad that’s full of vibrant flavor and crisp, colorful ingredients. Gluten-free rice noodles make a perfect base for all the crunchy veggies and flavorful peanut sauce.
Vietnamese-style rice noodle salad
This salad is kind of like a deconstructed summer roll or Vietnamese spring roll, loaded with fresh cooling herbs and crunchy vegetables.
In particular, food can be characterized as indulgent — downright naughty, even — and the siren call of diet plans and cleanses is everywhere.
What does clean eating mean?
In my opinion, it’s problematic to label a particular way of eating as “clean.” That means we’re making an assumption that there must be food that’s unclean.
As a person passionate about spreading the love for cooking and eating, that kind of rubs me the wrong way. Here’s what I think: Food isn’t “dirty.”
Unless, of course, that food has been so ultra-processed that by definition it’s no longer a natural substance!
Enjoying food is and should be a daily pleasure, particularly around the holidays, when it can be the focal point of gathering and celebrating.
At the same time, the thing about an amazing party is that while overindulging in food, wine and rock-and-roll feels perfect in the moment, the aftereffects are draining and taxing on the body.
If your plate feels unbalanced after weeks of debauchery or simply because of some habits that could use a change, an appetite recalibration is a perfect way to make a fresh start.
Eating more “healthy food”
“Getting healthy” doesn’t have to trigger the urge to buy magical smoothie powders or elixirs.
It can simply mean making simple shifts, like cutting out excess sugar and alcohol and eating more of the foods that might have fallen by the wayside.
Ultimately, it means choosing good food — the real thing! — and keeping things simple. Getting most of your nutrients from lean healthy proteins, unprocessed ingredients, whole grains and lots of fresh produce is key.
The power of fresh vegetables
All vegetables have super powers, as they’re naturally full of nutrients, fiber and molecules that support well-being.
This noodle salad recipe is a fresh, healthy meal-in-a-bowl you can make with supermarket vegetables.
It’s inspired by fragrant herbs and ingredients typical of Southeast Asian cooking, each one packed with its own superfood qualities.
Superfood ingredients for summer roll bowl:
- Cilantro, Basil and Mint: A holy trinity of herbs that create a flavor bomb in just about anything you put them in, especially when they’re used in combination. These aromatic tender greens are abundant in chlorophyll, vitamins A, C and K as well as calcium and manganese. Cilantro is very high in selenium, a natural detoxifier.
- Shallots and Green Onions: The savory, sharp bite of these members of the allium family makes them indispensable in cuisines around the world. Two of their many healthy attributes: high levels of antioxidants and sulfur, which can help lower cholesterol and soothe inflammation.
- Garlic: Besides the fact that the smell of sizzling garlic makes your mouth water, this bulb’s healing properties include stimulating metabolism, fighting infection and promoting healthy gut bacteria.
- Ginger: The gentle warmth and zesty nature of this refreshing rhizome also boasts powerful medicinal qualities, such as stimulating the digestive process and blood circulation.
- Carrots: These tapered roots add sweetness, vibrant color and texture to dishes, especially when raw or lightly cooked. Carrots contain high levels of beta carotene and are revered in holistic medicine for boosting liver function and toning the kidneys.
- Almonds: A perfect source of healthy fats, fiber and vitamin E, these little protein powerhouses make a delicious nut butter, which forms the base of the creamy, spicy-sweet dressing in this recipe.
More nourishing vegetarian recipes:
- Sweet and Spicy Banh Mi Rice Bowl
- Warm French Lentil Salad
- Asian Vegetable Slaw with Ginger Tahini Dressing
- Harvest Root Vegetable Salad with Chimichurri
Fresh Summer Roll Rice Noodle Salad
Almond Butter Lime Dressing:
- 3 tablespoons smooth almond butter, preferably unsweetened
- 3 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil such as avocado or canola
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sriracha
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 plump garlic clove, grated
- 8 ounces rice stir fry noodles, cooked according to package directions, drained and rinsed in cold water
- 2 cups matchstick-cut carrots, about 1/2 pound carrots
- 2 cups half-moon sliced seedless cucumber
- 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 cup loosely packed each fresh cilantro, mint and basil leaves
- Handful mixed baby greens
- Sesame seeds
- Crushed roasted peanuts or chopped roasted almonds
- Thinly sliced fresh red chili pepper
- Whisk all ingredients for the dressing together in a bowl until smooth.
- In another large bowl, toss the drained noodles with the carrots, cucumber, scallions, shallot, herb leaves and 1/2 of the dressing.
- Serve in bowls over mixed greens, with additional dressing spooned over to taste. Garnish with fresh red chili, peanuts and/or sesame seeds.
- Add some protein to bulk up the salad: Such as glazed tofu, cooked shrimp or salmon.
Hey, I’m Karen
Creator of Familystyle Food
I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.