Vietnamese Noodle and Meatball Salad with Peanut-Ginger Vinaigrette

Please keep this between us: I may have broken international law…You see, I am featuring a classic Vietnamese Noodle Salad with a Thai Peanut Dressing, oops! Well, honestly, it could’ve been worse; I mean I could have mixed sauerkraut or kielbasa or something a bit more paradoxical than a peanut dressing with the Vietnamese salad – so please, don’t be too hard on me…at least I stayed in the same continent! Seriously though, this salad is delightful – it’s vibrant, refreshing and full of flavor!

I was intrigued by this article in Bon Appetit last year and parked it somewhere in the “culinary” section of my brain. When I saw this recipe a few months ago while perusing Not Without Salt, one of my many favorite recipe blogs, I decided that it was time to give this interesting recipe for Vietnamese Meatball Sandwiches a try. I combined the two recipes and adapted the result just a bit. I’ve made them several times now, always to rave reviews. The sandwich is a meal on its own with the gingery pork meatballs, fresh veggies and a lovely ciabatta roll on which it is served. The delicious Asian flavours seem to just explode in your mouth!

This time I decided to change-up the recipe a bit and make it into a salad. It needed a yummy dressing to tie it all together and since we love Thai-style peanut sauces, I came up with a Peanut-Ginger Vinaigrette. The dressing is delicious and not only complements this salad beautifully, it would be equally wonderful on other salads, drizzled on an Asian style wrap or just as a dipping sauce for fresh veggies.

I served this fantastic salad buffet-style with the meatballs and other ingredients arranged on a large platter. Guests made up their own plates according to individual taste. It made a beautiful presentation with all the vivid colors of the fresh veggies yet was a simple way to serve a crowd.

P.S. I had a few left-over meatballs and I used them to make a Thai pita pizza. It was delicious with a peanut sauce base, roasted red peppers, red onion, Vietnamese Meatballs, a combination of Gouda and fresh Mozzarella (I had a little of each of these in my fridge) and a sprinkle of cilantro and chopped peanuts. I declared it “quite yummy” and my husband agreed! 

Vietnamese Noodle and Meatball Salad with Peanut-Ginger Vinaigrette

Vietnamese Meatballs, see recipe
Peanut Ginger Vinaigrette, see recipe
10 ounces rice noodles *, prepared accordig to package directios and drained
2 bunches Romaine or Leaf lettuce , washed, dried and coarsely torn
1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
½ cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
5 ounces carrots, shredded, I buy the pre-shredded bagged carrots and used half of the bag
1 medium daikon radish, julienned
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 cups cucumber, peeled and julienned
(Feel free to add any other fresh veggie you’d like, I had some beautiful fresh corn so I used that but bean sprouts sugar snap peas, snow peas or zuchinni, julienned would also be great options.)
1 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1. Put the carrots and daikon in a strainer. Sprinkle with the sugar, the vinegar, and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt and mix well with your hands. Allow the veggies to drain for 10 minutes and then gently squeeze in a paper towel to get rid of the liquid.

2. Combine fresh herbs together.

3. Arrange all ingredients attractively on a large platter with meatballs piled in the center. Sprinkle meatballs with peanuts. Pass extra peanuts and the Peanut Ginger Vinaigrette at the table.

Serves 8-10

A few notes:
*Rice noodles are a traditional Thai syle pasta. If you can’t find them, substitute the same amount of linguini pasta, cooked according to package directions.
I get my rice noodles at Trader Jo’s or at an Oriental Market but many larger grocery stores are now carrying them.
If you can’t find Daikon radishes, substitute jicama or just leave them out.

This salad is usually served at room temperature but if you would like the meatballs and pasta warm it will also be delicious!

 Vietnamese Meatballs 

2 pounds ground pork
1 bunch green onion, finely sliced
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 rounded tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix together with your hands or a large sturdy spoon.


2. Preheat oven to 400. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil over foil and rub to coat foil. Form the meat mixture into small balls, about 1 tablespoon each and place on foil lined pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, gently shaking pan 2-3 times during baking to ensure that meatballs are browning on all sides.

3. Remove from oven and use for salad or sandwiches. These can be made ahead and warmed on medium setting in microwave for several minutes or until warmed through.

Serves 6-8 in Vietnamese Meatball Salad

Peanut-Ginger Vinaigrette 

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup peanut oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Place peanut butter, soy sauce and honey in a medium size glass jar. Microwave, uncovered for 30 seconds. Mix with a small whisk or a fork until smooth.

2. Add remaining ingredients, place cover on jar and shake very well.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

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