March 17, 2013

Rice Noodle Salad With Grapefruit-Sriracha Vinaigrette

by IsaChandra

Serves 4 (Doubles well)
Active time: 30 minutes || Total time: 30 minutes

Rice Noodle Salad

If this were an item on a fancy restaurant menu it would be all: Chilled Rice Noodles In Grapefruit-Sriracha Vinaigrette. Then there would be a clean typeface listing all of the components with a classy flourish — “ruby grapefruit, sesame smoked tofu, black sesame, mint.” And then you’d be like “I’ll take three, please!”

This is a really pleasing spin on a Vietnamese noodle salad. It’s bright, fresh, zesty and studded with savory smoky flavors, too. What I love about cold noodle salads like this, is how the contrasting flavors create something otherworldly. And it’s easy on the eyes, as well. Pretty jewels of ruby red grapefruit, set off with the black sesame seeds. Wasn’t pink and black your favorite color combo in the 80s? Yes, mine, too!

The dressing on its own would be nice to keep bottled up in the fridge this spring. Is there any sweeter music to the ears than Grapefruit-Sriracha Vinaigrette?

And just one last thing. Don’t you get annoyed when your camera phone pics look better than the pics from your real camera? Such is the case here. (PS I’m on Instagram: IsaChandra.)

Cold Noodle Salad

Recipe Notes

~I used super firm tofu, because it doesn’t need to be pressed or anything, and it browns up in cast iron quickly and beautifully. You can buy it at Whole Foods or Trader Joes, for sure, and probably other places, too. And ya know, if you’re super lazy, you could just buy some smoked tofu. (While we’re at it, you can use a half block of pressed extra firm tofu instead. )

~I sliced my tofu into matchsticks that were about 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long. You can also do a small dice, if you prefer.

~Ooh, you know what else might be good? Instead of tofu, saute chickpeas in the smokey soy mixture. I bet that’d be yummy.

~Sriracha lovers: feel free to add a little extra! It’s got some heat, obviously, but I’d say it’s like, oh, let’s say a four on the one to ten heat scale.

~I used mini cucumbers, but you can use large ones sliced into half moons, instead.

~If you’d rather a green salad, that would be delicious, too! Just replace the noodles with crisp greens.

~Two large, juicy red grapefruits will be enough for this salad. One for its juice, the other to slice into the salad.

~Diced avocado would be great on this, too! I didn’t happen to have any.

For the tofu:
8 oz super-firm tofu, sliced into thick matchsticks (see pic)
3 tablespoons soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon liquid smoke

For the dressing:
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
3/4 cup fresh red grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons Sriracha
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the salad:
8 oz pad thai rice noodles
2 mini cucumbers, thinly sliced (about a cup)
1 red grapefruit, cut into segments then halved
Black sesame seeds
1/4 cup finely sliced fresh mint
(I used sliced fresnos for garnish but, eh, you don’t need em.)

First, boil water for the noodles. While water is boiling prepare the tofu, prep veggies, and make dressing.

Prepare the tofu:
Preheat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat.

Measure the tamari, sesame oil and liquid smoke out onto a dinner plate. Dredge the tofu pieces into the mixture and toss to coat.

Spray pan with a little canola oil. Cook tofu, flipping often, until lightly to medium browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Prepare the noodles:
Once water has come to a boil, prepare rice noodles according to package directions, being careful not to overcook. Once noodles are tender, transfer to a colander and run under cold water to cool completely. Set aside.

Make the dressing:
Simply add all dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until very smooth. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Assemble the salad:
Toss together noodles, cucumbers, grapefruit segments and tofu. Coat with dressing, using your hands to mix (this way, you don’t break the tofu or smush the grapefruit). Garnish each individual serving with sesame seeds and mint. Serve cold!

  • March 17, 2013 at 6:32 pm: Sara

    This looks like one of the best dishes ever!

  • March 17, 2013 at 6:37 pm: Alexander Willow Harvey

    Looks insanely beautiful! Im so gonna get on that!

  • March 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm: Crystal

    Oh yes. This is happening for dinner this week. You ruleeeeeee, Isa.

  • March 17, 2013 at 7:14 pm: wendy (healthy girls kitchen)

    Oooh, I just cooked up some buckwheat noodles to make an Asian noodle salad with a vinaigrette that I have left over in my kitchen. Heading over to the Asian market to get the veggies for it. Never thought of adding fruit. What a yummy addition. Thanks Eesa!

  • March 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm: Eileen

    Oh man, why did I pass up the Armenian cucumbers at the farmer’s market this morning? This looks so good that I may have to make a second trip out.

  • March 17, 2013 at 10:42 pm: Jill

    This looks so good! And I love the shape of the plate. I already made my plan for this coming week’s meals, but next week, I’m definitely going to have to try this! With the weather warming up, this would be the perfect dish for dinner. Love your recipes!

  • March 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm: Ashley

    Made this for dinner tonight!! Absolutely delicious, light and refreshing. I added some chopped peanuts for garnish and loved that. Next time I may add extra tofu because the smoky flavor was excellent. I like the avocado suggestion as well. Thank you so much for this fantastic recipe!

  • March 17, 2013 at 11:41 pm: Anna {Herbivore Triathlete}

    I love adding citrus fruits to salads and cold noodle salads are always a treat in my opinion. I don’t think I’ve ever seen black sesame seeds in the grocery store, they add a lovely pop on the salad.

    • March 18, 2013 at 2:35 am: IsaChandra

      Toasted sesame seeds would be great, too.

  • March 17, 2013 at 11:41 pm: Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    This is absolutely lovely!!

  • March 18, 2013 at 2:35 am: Ashley

    This looks fresh and beautiful. Yum!!

  • March 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm: Nicole Leigh

    You won me over with “Grapefruit- Sriracha Vinaigrette”. THIS IS GENIUS!

  • March 18, 2013 at 5:15 pm: Shelley

    Would another citrus work in place of the grapefruit for those that cannot eat them?

    • March 18, 2013 at 5:45 pm: IsaChandra


  • March 18, 2013 at 9:55 pm: Jenna

    Oh man, I’m excited – already have almost everything for this waiting for me at home! Quick clarification: is the dressing as is a 4/10 on the heat scale, or is that if I add additional Sriracha? I’m about a 2/10 and want to be able to adjust accordingly. Thanks!

  • March 19, 2013 at 12:17 am: Candace

    I want to make this soooo bad, but I actually can’t have grapefruit. And that’s a terrible thing, I miss it. Can you think of something that would be a good substitute for grapefruit in this recipe?

  • March 19, 2013 at 1:52 am: AshYTim

    LOVE that bowl! And I must make this soon!

  • March 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm: Jennifer

    This is so happening this week! Amazing!

  • March 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm: erin

    i also cannot have grapefruit :( good substitution?

    • March 20, 2013 at 4:24 pm: IsaChandra

      Oranges! Or blood oranges.

  • March 20, 2013 at 6:23 pm: Kristin

    Just made this for lunch as a salad – over a baby spring mix instead of noodles. It is SO good! I only had regular sesame seeds, and canola oil (instead of grapeseed), and I put way extra sriracha in (love hot things) – all good still. Thanks for an amazing salad that promises to be a spring/summer favorite! PS: Added bonus – my mint started coming in this week, so this is officially the first thing I’ve made using my garden :) I had just enough with its tiny little spring leaves

  • March 23, 2013 at 5:09 am: Wannabevegan

    Dont delay! Make this now! I made this and I cannot wait to make it again. Smoky savory tofu meets cool sweet grapefruit and cukes, tied together with spicy citrusy Sriracha vinaigrette. Wow. Was unsure about using the liquid smoke, but now I don’t know why I don’t use it more often! I doubled the sauce for the tofu, and cooked the whole block so I would have leftovers. I also subbed cilantro for mint, and udon noodles for the rice noods. Outstanding fresh flavor combos. Thanks Isa!

    • March 23, 2013 at 3:57 pm: IsaChandra

      Yay, thanks for the feedback!

  • March 27, 2013 at 3:20 pm: Tina

    Very yummy, tried it on Monday.

  • March 29, 2013 at 12:17 pm: Katrina

    I just made this with oranges instead of grapefruits since I had a bunch sitting aroundthat I needed to use up. This was delicious! A bit spicy for my taste, so I’ll use less srirachi sauce next time but I’ll be making this again. Thanks for the recipe!

  • April 2, 2013 at 6:19 pm: AprilAnnie

    Why can’t I find liquid smoke at the grocery store?? Spice aisle, right? Maybe it’s too Wonder bread around here….ugh! What can I use instead? Thanks!

  • April 14, 2013 at 3:44 am: Alice in Veganland

    Cooked it – loved it. Now I’m thinking of serving it to guests as a salad accompanied by a main dish. Any suggestions on what it would be great with?

  • April 19, 2013 at 7:15 pm: Amy

    I made this with grapefruit from a jar, as well as garlic and ginger from jars, and it was still delicious!! The fresh mint is crucial!

  • April 19, 2013 at 8:21 pm: Catherine Hansford

    Has anyone calculated the calories in this (or am I going to have to do it)?

  • April 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm: Amy

    On a separate occasion, I did marinate and roast chickpeas with the marinade, and they are great! I sprinkled a little sesame seeds and sea salt on too… would be great in this dish or any salad.

  • May 2, 2013 at 11:13 pm: Jo Anna

    I wanted a new, solid reason to grow mint on the balcony this year. Just found it – thanks!

  • May 5, 2013 at 12:58 am: Beylan

    I made this on a fabulous Seattle day. It’s as pretty as it is tasty and it’s very pretty. I used maifun rice sticks and grilled my tofu. Fabulous!

  • May 15, 2013 at 1:41 am: Jo Anna

    I made this (with lots less Sriracha because I’m a sissy not a hottie!) – it was so fresh and delicious – our WF was still stocking red grapefruit last week. With 18 ingredients, it’s going into the “special occasion” file if making it exactly as written (which was sooooooogoood!). I’ll see what tweaks may get a similar result with fewer parts – Dressing, I’m looking at you. Thank you for this restaurant-quality recipe!

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  • June 25, 2013 at 1:11 am: kt

    Made this with chickpeas instead of tofu. This is going to be a new staple. Soooo good

  • June 26, 2013 at 6:23 pm: Tricia

    Is it possible to buy sriracha sauce without all the bad ingredients?

  • July 14, 2013 at 5:14 pm: Victoria

    I must warn everyone about this dish! I made it with the intention of having leftovers for lunch but I couldn’t leave it alone once it was in the fridge. I kept going back for ‘just one more bite”. I at the whole salad in one evening!! Maybe next time I should make double…

  • September 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm: Jenn

    Made this last night, delicious!! Such a great combination of flavors and textures.

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  • February 12, 2014 at 11:34 pm: Shelley

    This was SO ridiculously good. Reminds me of the rice noodle salad that is in ‘Appetite for Reduction’. It’s super easy to make and the tofu is insane. We have a blizzard going on outside and we are still devouring this cold dish. Thank you thank you.

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  • April 14, 2014 at 4:10 pm: Francine Frigault

    puis avoir la recette de la vinaigrette utilisé pour la recette tofu au pamplemousse s.v.p. merci beaucoup !

  • June 7, 2014 at 3:43 pm: Lori

    I have most of your cookbooks. This is my absolute all-time, absolute favorite recipe of yours. I made it three weeks in a row with different pastas, and I’m sharing it with my parents this weekend. DELICIOUS!!!!!! thanks!!

  • July 7, 2014 at 4:05 pm: Julia Gonzalez

    It’s what’s for dinner — thank you, Isa! I’m going to make a few little tweaks — adding a little peanut butter to the tofu and serving the whole thing on a bed of lettuce.

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  • August 25, 2014 at 1:22 am: Tracey Christianson

    I made this for dinner tonight. The sauce was delicious. I wish it could be a tad creamier. Any suggestions? The tofu marinade was so tasty. I just bought your book and look forward to trying the next recipe. What is your favorite?

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  • March 3, 2015 at 11:19 pm: Susan Hauser

    Just plunked my (empty) bowl into the sink. Isa, this is one of the most gorgeous dishes I’ve ever tasted. Admittedly, the seemingly random collection of ingredients had me a bit worried as I made this, but OMG!!!, it was just so delicious. Some sort of culinary alchemy at work here. Will make this again and again. Thanks a million for sharing the recipe. (Oh, I made it with chickpeas instead of tofu, since that’s what I had on hand.)

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