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