Rainbow Chard Vermicelli

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I’ll let the pictures do the talking today. Well, most of the talking anyway...

In the summer heat, this cold noodle salad is light, refreshing and quick to make. And, on these hot days, the last place I want to be is in front of the stove for hours. This recipe only requires a little bit of cooking and it comes together quickly. This is another one of my unrecipes. The sauce is inspired by the sweet, salty and spicy vietnamese dipping sauce, nuoc cham. The greens and vegetables can all be adjusted to appease your taste buds. It’s all about what you like so feel free to change it up. Throw in whatever greens you have on hand or pick up what is simply irresistible from the farmers market.  You can’t really go wrong, especially if you top it all off with loads of fresh herbs. They add a fresh kick that also packs a nutritional punch, herbs are great sources of powerful vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

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This dish in a hodgepodge of flavors, all stemming from Asian cuisines of varying cultures and roots. Nuoc cham is traditionally Vietnamese but I went ahead and added ginger, because I love it and it’s an incredible superfood that aids in digestion, reduces inflammation and gives your immune system a boost. I’ve also toyed with the recipe by using alternative sugars; brown rice syrup is among the most healthful sugars available on the market.  I’m choosing to  top things off with gomashio, a traditional Japanese condiment comprised of toasted unhulled sesame seeds and salt. Sesame seeds are a great source of copper, magnesium and calcium, all minerals that boost bone health. Gomashio can be bought at many supermarkets or can be made at home by combining toasted sesame seeds with salt in a 5:1 ratio. It’s a condiment that you will fall in love with and add to just about anything; vegetables, salads, rice... it adds great flavor to so many dishes.

Ok, I said I’d let the photos do the talking and I’ve rambled on and on. I’m done! Enjoy!

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Rainbow Chard & Vermicelli

my 'nuoc cham'

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1” ginger, minced
  • ½ red chili, finely chopped (or 2 t red chili paste)
  • 2 T brown rice syrup (or sweetener of choice)
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • Juice of 1-2 limes (depending on how juicy they are)
  • ¼ c water

Whisk the sauce ingredients together and set aside. To really meld the flavors, grind the first 3 ingredients in a mortar and pestle before adding wet ingredients.

Green Goodness & Noodles

  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • 1 T minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 T minced ginger (about 1”)
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 package brown rice vermicelli (about 225g)
  • topping: cilantro, scallions, mint, basil, cashews, gomashio, more red pepper...

Cook brown rice vermicelli according to package directions. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and place in a large bowl. Mix in about half of the sauce, and allow the noodles to absorb it and soak up all those flavors.

Wash and dry the swiss chard. (And, yes, use the whole bunch! It will cook down and you’ll be wanting more.) Slice the stems on a bias into 1/4” slices. After cutting the stems, pile several leaves on top of each other, roll them up and cut them into 1/4” ribbons. In culinary terms, chiffonade the leaves.

Heat a large skillet. Add about 1 T of coconut or olive oil. Add stems and saute for about 2 minutes, you want them to still have a good crunch. Add in reserved garlic, ginger, 2 T of sauce and chard leaves. Saute for another minute or so until barely wilted. Remove from heat.

Combine noodles and chard. From here you can make individual portions or place it all in a large serving dish to share. Top with lots of cilantro (and as many other herbs as you heart desires), cashews, gomasio, and scallions. Add remaining sauce if desired. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

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