Chef and author Terry Hope Romero knows her veggies and she’s back to rescue salads from their bad reputation. Salad Samurai (Da Capo Press, 2014) is a guide to real salad bushido that will eliminate the “side” status with more than 100 vibrant recipes. The following excerpt is for a raw Asparagus Pad Thai Salad recipe.
Purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Salad Samurai.
Put down that wok and pick up a veggie peeler for this fusion of raw culinary technique (shredding asparagus or zucchini into “noodles”), cooked rice noodles, and a dressing of caramelized shallots for a lighter, veggie-loaded twist on that beloved Thai noodle dish.
Asparagus Pad Thai Salad Recipe
Pad Thai Salad
• 4 ounces Pad Thai rice noodles
• 1⁄2 pound asparagus
• 1 cup mung bean sprouts, washed and dried
• 1 cup lightly packed fresh Thai or sweet basil leaves, chiffonaded
• 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
• 2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
• 1 recipe Lemongrass Tofu* (below)
• 1⁄2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely ground
• Lime wedges and Sriracha, for serving
Toasted Shallot Dressing
• 1⁄4 cup minced shallots
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
• 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or organic brown sugar, plus more for serving
• 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
• 1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more for serving
1. Boil the rice noodles according to package directions and cook only until al dente (1 or 2 minutes less than directed). Drain, rinse with cold water, and cover with cold water until ready to use.
2. Wash and trim the tough stem ends from the asparagus. Trim the heads from the asparagus and set aside. Use a Y-shaped peeler to shred the asparagus stalks into long ribbons and slice into thin strips the remaining pieces that are too awkward to shred. Transfer the asparagus ribbons to a mixing bowl and add the mung bean sprouts, basil, cilantro, and scallions.
3. In a skillet over medium heat, fry the shallots, garlic, ginger, and oil until the shallots are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus tips, sauté 1 minute, remove from the heat, and cool for 2 minutes. Transfer the asparagus tip mixture to the bowl with the ribbons. Drain the rice noodles and add to the asparagus salad.
4. Whisk together the lime juice, sugar, tamarind, and soy sauce and pour over the salad. Toss to coat everything with dressing. Mound the salad in serving bowls and garnish with strips of Lemongrass Tofu and sprinkle with peanuts. Devour, but graciously offer wedges of lime, Sriracha, a small dish of coconut sugar, and soy sauce for dining companions to season their own dish to taste.
Gluten-Free Lemongrass Tofu Recipe
Zesty lemongrass tofu is great served warm or chilled, and it adds the perfect hearty element to Asian-inspired salads.
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes, most of the time inactive, including pressing and roasting.
Serves: 2 as a salad topping.
• 1 pound extra-firm tofu or super-firm tofu (no pressing necessary)
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup
• 4 teaspoons tamari
• 1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped fresh or prepared lemongrass
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 2 teaspoons peanut oil or olive oil
1. If using extra-firm tofu, press the tofu first. Slice the tofu into thin 1⁄4-inch strips. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat the bottom and sides of a 13- by 9-inch ceramic or glass baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Combine the maple syrup, tamari, lemongrass, garlic, and oil in the baking dish and whisk together. Arrange the tofu slices in the marinade and set aside while the oven is preheating, about 15 minutes. Occasionally stir around the tofu strips.
3. Bake the tofu for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip the strips over. Bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the strips are golden and the marinade is absorbed. Serve warm or chilled. Store chilled and consume within 2 days for best flavor.
The Spin: Plan ahead like a samurai: prepare the Lemongrass Tofu a day in advance and heat up just before serving.
Samurai Stylings: Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai
Replace the rice noodles with homemade zucchini or yellow summer squash noodles for an even lighter dish. You’ll need a little more than 1/2 pound of squash. Select long, slender young squash, scrub clean, and trim off the stem. Use the Y-shaped peeler to create long, thin strands similar to the asparagus “noodles” for the above salad. Proceed as directed with the rest of the recipe.
More Recipes from Salad Samurai
From Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don’t Have to Be Vegan to Love by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books. Purchase this book in our store: Salad Samurai.