“River Cottage Veg” by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Ten Speed, $35) is chockablock with irresistible recipes. The author is a British broadcaster, farmer and educator, as well as the recipient of several James Beard Awards for his cookbooks. A campaigner for sustainably produced food, he established the River Cottage farm in Dorset, England in 1998.
I often refer to this book when I visit my daughter Christy and her family in Oakland. They are vegetarians and I love to surprise them with new dishes.
But they love this salad so much, I have made it several times. The formula says it feeds four, but I usually double the recipe because we are “good eaters.”
Here is what Fearnley-Whittingstall wrote about the salad:
“A bright and zingy dressing, handfuls of herbs and crunchy peanuts pack loads of flavor into simple, easy-to-cook noodles. If you can only find salted peanuts, rinse off the salt and pat them dry.”
He adds that mint is mandatory, but the other herbs pretty much optional. I say you don’t need to weigh out the ingredients that are given in ounces – just wing it.
Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad
Yield: 4 servings
Dressing: 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, minced zest and juice of 1 lime or 1/2 lemon, 1/2 to 1 small fresh red chili (minced – with seeds if you like it fiery – substitute another variety of chili of you prefer), 1 garlic clove minced, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce (plus more for passing at the table)
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
7 ounces dried rice vermicelli or fine egg noodles
5 ounces green beans
1/2 cucumber – any variety, but peeled if skin is thick
6 green onions, trimmed
About 12 fresh basil leaves, coarsely torn
Small bunch fresh mint, coarsely chopped
Small bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
- In a large bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients.
- Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water; add to dressing and toss. Cool.
- Cook beans to tender crisp in boiling water, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well. Cut cucumber in half lengthwise. Cut crosswise into thin slices. Finely slice green onions thinly on the diagonal.
- Toss noodles with peanuts, cucumber, green onions, beans and herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with soy sauce on the side for optional use.