Deconstructed shrimp spring rolls are the star of this salad
Bright, crisp vegetables, such as carrot and cucumber, and leafy herbs such as mint and cilantro, round out the salad and nail the spring roll flavors.
If you like Thai and Vietnamese spring rolls—the fresh ones that are wrapped in rice paper, bursting with vegetables and shrimp—you will like this salad.
Call it a lazy spring roll salad, if you like, since it’s essentially composed of the jumble of ingredients that are traditionally wrapped in rice paper. The salad moniker (and method) helpfully eliminates the time needed to roll the rice paper sheaths, which means you can get this dinner on the table in minutes once the ingredients are prepped.
As with most salads, you can always tinker with the ingredients. The key is to pack a variety of flavors and textures into each bite. Sweet, briny shrimp are a favorite protein in spring rolls. They can be steamed, poached or sauteed before adding. I prefer to saute them for extra flavor and oomph in the salad.
Bright, crisp vegetables, such as carrot and cucumber, and leafy herbs, such as mint and cilantro, round out the salad and nail the spring roll flavors. I also like to add blanched broccolini spears to boost the veggie component. A Sriracha-spiked peanut dressing, inspired by a spring roll dipping sauce, binds the vibrant bowl together with cooked rice noodles.
Note that while this salad is quick to assemble, you will need to take some time to prep the ingredients in advance, which is a frequent requisite for quick, wok-style cooking.
Cook and cool the rice noodles, shrimp and broccolini before assembling. This can be done several hours before prepping; refrigerate the prepped ingredients until assembling.
The salad holds up well once prepared and can be refrigerated until serving, which is handy for a make-ahead meal or packed lunch.
Shrimp Spring Roll Salad
Yield: Serves 4
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons runny honey
- 4 ounces vermicelli rice noodles
- 8 ounces broccolini, blanched, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound large (16/18) shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact (optional)
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt
- 2 to 3 scallions, ends trimmed, white and green parts sliced on the diagonal
- 1 large carrot, peeled, cut in matchsticks
- 1/2 English cucumber, seeded, cut in matchsticks
- 1 small red jalapeno or Fresno chile pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender sprigs, plus more for garnish
- Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
1. Whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl until smooth.
2. Prepare the rice noodles per package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer to a large bowl. Toss with about 1 tablespoon of the dressing to prevent them from sticking.
3. Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add the broccolini and blanch until bright green in color and crisp-tender, about 30 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Pat dry.
4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in one layer, sprinkle with the red pepper flakes and lightly season with salt. Cook until the shrimp are pink on both sides and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a plate.
5. Combine the broccolini, shrimp, scallions, carrots, cucumbers, chile pepper, mint and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and half of the dressing and, using tongs, mix to combine. Add more dressing to taste. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the salad and garnish with additional mint and cilantro. Serve with any remaining dressing.
Lynda Balslev is an award-winning food and wine writer, cookbook author and recipe developer. She also authors the blog TasteFood, a compilation of more than 600 original recipes, photos and stories.