“Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.”
-Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
I know it is presumptuous to claim that it is already spring, particularly with half of the country blanketed in deep snow. But, our afternoons here have had an underlying warmth, and the birds have been singing in the trees, and I am ready for meals that are sprightly and green and fresh. I recently spotted this charred Brussels sprout and asparagus rice noodle salad on Thyme & Honey, and the thought of a summery Asian-style noodle salad served with dark winter veggies has been stuck in the back of my mind ever since.
Of course, I’ve no doubt we will be back to the regular programming of roasted root vegetables and hearty stews when we continue to have snow falling into June.
What with the beautiful weather and my absorption in my latest read, I forgot that I meant to stop by the natural grocer and pick up both Brussels sprouts and asparagus. Never one to be fazed by substitutions (as anyone who has dined with me in a restaurant can attest), I scrounged through the crisper to find some similar items. Radish and cucumber are natural fits in a cold noodle salad, particularly one with an Asian flavor profile. Kale, which we always have on hand for green smoothies, and Brussels sprouts are both in the Brassica oleracea family and share the same sweet, smokey flavor when roasted (think: kale chips). To give it some texture, I, for lack of a better term, fried the kale in a small bit of butter and sprinkle of salt, over high heat, resulting in that crispy roasted flavor.
For a dressing, fresh lime juice and zest, rice vinegar, a dab of miso, a dash of fish sauce and some salt and turbinado sugar add some zip to the salad. This can truly also be made with whatever is one hand- roasted sesame oil can be added if that is a flavor you prefer (I personally find sesame oil to overwhelm nearly all other flavors). We loved this dish because it was quick, simple and low-maintenance in terms of assembly.
Crispy Kale Noodle Salad + Miso Dressing
Inspired by Honey & Thyme’s Charred Brussels Sprout Noodle Salad, and the contents of my refrigerator.
1 package rice noodles*
1 bunch curly (Scots) kale, leaves stripped from the steps and chopped into 1-2 inch squares
accompanying crunchy vegetables, such as radish, cucumber, or [parboiled] asparagus, thinly sliced
fresh cilantro + black sesame seeds, for garnish
oil of choice, for sautéeing
1 clove fresh garlic, grated or finely minced
juice and zest from good-sized lime
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fish sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
red pepper flakes
drizzle olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Bring a stockpot of water to a boil. Prepare rice noodles as specified on the package. Once noodles are al dente, drain and immediately replace with cold water. Repeat until the water remains cold, and set aside with noodles submerged in cold water.
2. Melt a dab of butter or drizzle of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat and add the kale. Sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring periodically, until the leaves are crispy and fragrant. The edges should be golden brown and crispy. Set aside.
3. Mix together lime juice and zest, garlic, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, red pepper flakes, and miso paste. A word of caution: I have, on various occasions, purchased seasoned rice wine vinegar, unseasoned rice wine vinegar, and rice wine vinegar with no sugar and no salt added. Always taste your seasonings to ensure that you are adding sweetener and salt to best fit your ingredients! Taste the dressing, and add turbinado sugar, salt and pepper as needed, and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
4. Drain pasta and toss with half of the dressing, half of the kale, and the cold vegetables. Remove to serving dish and top with remaining crispy kale. Drizzle remaining dressing over the salad and finish with black sesame seeds and fresh cilantro.
Serves 2 as an entree, 4 as a side
*Adam recently pointed out to me that a package of rice noodles I picked up at the Asian market in Olympia contained a whopping 27 servings! I have tried to be more cognizant of portion size following that realization…but we still average about nine servings a package, rather than twenty-seven. 😉 I typically eyeball the portion and then take slightly less than I think we will eat, since the noodles expand.