Thank you to Pinch of Yum for the inspiration for this salad. When I saw her recipe for "Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Rice Noodles" several years ago, I knew I had to make a vegetarian version ASAP. The sweet-salty-spicy-tangy dressing called to me, and I have an almost unholy love of rice noodles. I gathered and prepared my ingredients, swapping in browned tofu for the chicken, and I also decided to pack my salads "upside down," in a few quart-sized mason jars I had lying around, in imitation of my coworker who had been bringing salads to work for lunch in just such a fashion. This recipe was, indeed, my first-ever attempt at a mason jar salad lunch! I have fond memories of enjoying this salad while hanging out in the car in-between home visits on a cold, grey, January afternoon. This salad brightened up my day then, and I hope it does to yours this week!
YIELD: 4 quart-sized salads
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 tbsp low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 6 tbsp lime juice
- 6 tbsp canola oil
- 3 serrano peppers, sliced
- 6 oz rice noodles, prepared, rinsed under cool water, and drained well
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, grilled or roasted and shredded
- 1 large carrot, peeled, halved, and sliced
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced thinly
- 1 small bunch green onions, sliced
- 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 package fresh mint leaves, julienned
- 1 small head napa cabbage, shredded
- Make the serrano-lime dressing: combine the garlic, vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, lime juice, and oil in a pint-sized mason jar. Puree and emulsify the dressing using a handheld stick blender. (Alternately, puree and emulsify the dressing ingredients using a blender or mini food processor.) Stir in the sliced serranos.
- Pack the salads: divide the dressing evenly between 4 tall quart-sized containers. Layer the noodles, chicken, carrot, bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, mint, and cabbage in the jars. Refrigerate until serving.
- Enjoy your salad: invert your salad onto a plate or into a bowl.
TIME-SAVING TIPS: Use rotisserie chicken in place of the grilled or roasted chicken thighs.
SPECIAL DIET SWAPS: For a vegetarian/vegan salad, substitute grilled or broiled tofu for the chicken.. For gluten-free diners, use gluten-free tamari. This salad is nut-free as-is.
Food styling, photography, and infographics by Robert Campbell.