Cucumber & Rice Noodle Salad
Cucumbers are a mainstay of summer salads. Growing up, we often had very simple salads made with cucumbers – either tossed with thin slivers of red onions in red wine vinegar or sometimes combined with sliced tomatoes and a little sour cream. Many cultures use cucumbers to temper the heat of spicy meals such as the Indian condiment “raita” which is often described as “cooling cucumber.”
One of my favorite ways to enjoy summer cucumbers is with vermicelli rice noodles lightly dressed with an Asian inspired sauce. I prefer Kame brand Rice Sticks-Vermicelli as they are made only using rice and water; they are naturally gluten free and low sodium. You can enjoy this simple salad as a side dish or add some extra vegetables, chicken and nuts to make a more substantial meal. If you prefer, you can use “glass noodles” (also known as cellophane or bean thread noodles) which turn transparent when you cook them. This salad transports well, making it a perfect option for a summer picnic.
CUCUMBER & RICE NOODLE SALAD
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Juice and zest of two limes
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 ½ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sweet chili sauce
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
For the salad:
3 cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8-ounce package of rice sticks (rice vermicelli noodles)
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing together in a covered jar. Shake well to combine.
Add the rice vermicelli to 3 quarts of boiling water. Stir well so the noodles don’t stick together. Cook for 3 minutes, then drain. Place the rice vermicelli in a large bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil so the noodles don’t clump. Let the noodles cool for about 5-10 minutes.
Pour on the dressing and toss well to combine. Add the cucumber slices and serve immediately.
Feel free to add fresh herbs or more vegetables such as shredded carrots, sliced scallions, bell peppers, avocado cubes or sliced cherry tomatoes. This salad also tastes delicious when combined with cooked rotisserie chicken or tuna. For some extra crunch, top with cashews or peanuts.