Fresh, light and flavorful…
My mind has been on fresh flavors lately, gearing up for spring in anticipation for the farmer’s markets to open with loads of fresh produce. I mainly go for the spring peas and ramps at this time, but getting out and enjoying the warmer sunshine is welcoming after a bleak winter.
The raw fennel and beet salad made several days ago was simple, but it was what we needed; a good boost of nutrition. No brisk walk later!
The Chioggia beets were not intentionally used in this salad, but somehow a few landed in the cart while picking the deep red variety. I didn’t even know they were there! I love the look of these beets when shaved very thin and leaving them uncooked; vibrant and sweet with a bit of earthiness. So here they are, in this salad.
Another salad was made a few days later, for a light dinner. The wonderful Vietnamese type salads you can make are great for a more substantial meal where lettuce wouldn’t be enough. Of course J. sighs when I make a dish that will need to be photographed before we can eat. Luckily this was a quick recipe, a few quick snaps and it was time to eat. J. loves these kinds of meals; the flavors are fresh, garlicky and spicy.
The special ingredient is the sauce for this shrimp noodle salad. You take equal parts lime juice and sugar, and then season with fish sauce, garlic and chilies to your liking.
I think fresh energizing flavors is what we all need, and a little bit of warm sunshine to shake off the winter blues…don’t you think?
Coconut Shrimp Noodle Salad [Serves 2]
10 whole shrimp, peeled & de-veined
½ cup shredded coconut
1 egg white
Sea salt to taste
8 ounces rice noodles [cooked per package instructions]
1 large purple carrot, julienne
1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
2 large radishes, julienne
2 handfuls mixed greens -or- chopped romaine
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
¼ cup Thai basil leaves
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup cane sugar
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
½ garlic clove, minced
½ teaspoon crushed chilies
Mung bean -or- other kind of sprouts [optional]
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Coat shrimp with beaten egg white and coat with coconut.
2. Place shrimp on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper coated with coconut spray.
3. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until shrimp is opaque and coconut starts to color.
4. While shrimp is cooking, combine lime juice, sugar, fish sauce, garlic and chilies in a small bowl.
5. Fill bowls with lettuce then rice noodles.
6. Place shrimp and prepared vegetables over noodles and pour sauce over and enjoy.
*note: A traditional Vietnamese salad uses pickled carrots and radishes which you can do in a snap with some rice vinegar and a little sugar to balance. Drain the vegetables after 30 minutes of marinating and continue with recipe.
Beet & Fennel Salad Recipe [Serves 2-4]
1 large fennel bulb, shaved -or- julienne
2 medium golden beets, shaved into rounds
2 medium Chioggia beets, shaved into thin rounds
1/3 cup fresh peas
4 Tablespoons grape seed oil -or- olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons fresh lime zest
3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 ½ teaspoons cane sugar -or- honey
1 Tablespoons shallots, minced
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1. Toss fennel, beets, peas and some of the feathery fennel tops together in a bowl.
2. Whisk together everything except the oil and marinate for 10 minutes.
3. Just before serving, which oil into the juice in a little stream until emulsified.
4. Toss with vinaigrette and enjoy.