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Thai Spring Roll Salad with Coconut Sunflower Dressing

Last week was the annual 9 day pot luck luncheon in my bungalow colony where everyone brings a dairy or pareve dish to enjoy. This year, I made Thai spring rolls with Sunflower dipping sauce and it was a huge hit, but, man, let me tell you, making spring rolls is a pain in the behind! I love them, but they take a lot of time and effort to roll properly and rice paper is an extremely temperamental ingredient to work with- soak too short, they'll crack, soak too long, they'll dissolve. So to get all the flavor of an amazing Thai spring roll without all the work, I came up with this salad. There are two crucial elements to any good spring roll: the herbs, which add the fresh, bright flavor and an excellent dipping sauce. I used mint, basil, and cilantro in my salad and the combination just perks up the salad immensely. Typically, the dipping sauce for spring rolls is peanut based but because my daughter is allergic to peanuts I used a honeyed sunflower butter instead and you couldn't really tell the difference- it was divine! Instead of the sunflower butter you can sub almond butter or even peanut butter but the sunflower butter has a nice, mild nuttiness that works well and doesn't compete with the flavor of the coconut. As for what to put in the salad, the options are endless! Below I listed what I added but you can also add tofu, tempeh, shredded chicken, and/or any fruit or vegetable under the sun. Some ideas include shredded red cabbage, avocado, fresh spinach, and sprouts. I personally always love the sweet touch of mango in my spring rolls so I added it here and Thai red chili complements it perfectly with a little heat. Go crazy with the toppings, the sky's the limit! For this salad I used bean thread noodles but rice noodle vermicelli works equally well- usually you need to just pour boiling water over them and let them sit about 15 minutes until they are ready but follow the instructions on your package. Enjoy!

250 gram rice noodle or bean thread vermicelli, cooked according to packaged directions, rinsed with cold water, and drained.
cucumber, diced
fresh green bean, diced
scallions, sliced
carrot, shredded
radish, sliced
mango, cut into strips
thai red chilli, thinly sliced
1/4 cup EACH basil, mint, and cilantro leaves    
roasted, salted sunflower seeds or chopped salted peanuts for crunch and garnish

Place the cooked rice noodles on a platter or in a bowl- this salad presents beautifully on a shallow platter where you can see all the toppings before mixing. Sprinkle the herbs on top and drizzle with the dressing.

For the dressing:

1 cup coconut milk
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbl ginger, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sunflower butter
1 1/2 Tbl honey
1 Tbl lime
1 Tbl +1 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbl  + 1 tsp rice vinegar
salt

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Blend until all combined. Taste and add more soy or honey if needed. You want a nice balance of salt, creamy with a little tang from the vinegar and lime.



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