Friday, August 15, 2014

Asian Roasted Vegetable Salad with Vermicelli

WARNING. This is a procrastination blog post. 
I should be studying for boards.

If you have never set foot in an Asian grocery, you are truly missing out on some excellent bargains. Usually they will sell larger volumes of the same items found in the "Asian Foods" section at the American grocery store - but AT RIDICULOUSLY LOW LOW PRICES. (I realize that may sound a bit like a used car commercial, but it's 100% factual). I haven't been happy with the state of affairs in their produce section, but for dry goods and non-perishables - IT'S ON!

As for produce, almost anywhere else is better. I usually just go to the regular grocery store, but occasionally hit up the Sam's super store if I have another reason to head that way. You may be surprised, but Sam's has a pretty solid selection of fresh staples. This includes giant amounts of spring mix for salads. Who needs that much lettuce, you may ask? WE ALL NEED THAT MUCH LETTUCE. I consider it a healthy challenge to finish the entire package before the leaves start to turn. The same challenge applies for most fresh veggies in my fridge. You may remember - it pains me to throw things away. LITERAL PAIN. (Man, I've used a lot of caps already! I'll chill out now...) If only there was a way to use up the salad greens *and* all of the other veggies in my crisper without making a heaping pile of cold chopped salad....

I took a peek in the fridge. I happen to have a bottle of fat free soy vinaigrette from Trader Joe's that I don't love as a salad dressing, per se... (I don't prefer sweetened dressings for salad), but it would work great as a base for a quick veggie marinade. I already had an idea in my head for a warm, soy based dressing for broccoli, carrots, and green beans...

Marinated, roasted vegetables on top of lettuce. That could work.

A step to the pantry -- should I add vermicelli noodles? Why not?! Noodles are far underutilized in salads, if you ask me. Which you didn't. But these particular noodles are an automatic match for fresh vegetables (spring rolls, anyone??). Experimental salad. Let's do it.

Asian Roasted Veggie Salad with Vermicelli

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min
Servings: 4

½ cup fat free soy vinaigrette (I used Trader Joe’s Sesame Soy Ginger Vinaigrette)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp chili garlic paste
1.5 cups broccoli
1 cup fresh green beans, snapped into 2” length
1 cup sliced yellow squash
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced on a bias
4 spears asparagus, cut to 2” length on a bias
¼ pkg (or two small bricks) Asian vermicelli (bean thread)
6 cups salad greens
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds (I used black sesame)
Extra vinaigrette dressing, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine the first three ingredients in a small bowl.
3. Place all chopped vegetables in a large bowl and pour vinaigrette sauce over. Gently stir to coat all veggies.
4. Spread veggies into a single layer on a large sheet pan. Bake vegetables for 20 minutes.
5. When veggies are almost done, bring a pot of water to boil.  Add vermicelli bricks to boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, gently agitating noodles with a fork to separate.
6. Strain noodles with a large skimming spoon, or similar. Set aside.
7. Plate 2 cups salad greens topped with ¼ noodles and ¼ roasted vegetables (cooled to warm or room temperature). Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve with extra salad dressing, if desired.

Calories 203, Total Fat 4.8 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium: 279 mg, Protein 4.6 g, Fiber 5.1 g

The salad was good. Again, I simply used up what I had on hand. Other tasty additions might include marinated tofu, scallions and mushrooms. If you can't find vermicelli noodles, you can also sub Japanese soba noodles or omit them altogether.