Recipe: Pho Noodle Salad with Tofu, Napa Cabbage, and Broccolini from Neighborhood

In Neighborhood: Hearty Salads and Plant-Based Recipes from Home and Abroad (available June 27, 2017), Hetty McKinnon explains that her book is a "collection of salad recipes inspired by 'places,' journeying from Brooklyn in New York to the greater Americas, the Mediterranean, Asia, France, my native Australia, and many other places around the world for salad-making inspiration."

The book is organized into sections of vegetable-laden recipes that are inspired by each place Hetty has lived and visited.

In the "To Asia with Love" section of the book, she says: "Asian fare is my comfort food. Though I was born and raised in Sydney, I am Chinese deep in my heart. The flavors of my childhood still transport me to my happy place. When I am homesick or need a big hit of flavor, I always turn to dumplings, a rambling bowl of noodles, braised shiitake mushrooms with tofu, or stir-fried broccoli. Now, Asian salads are my favorite dishes to make, affording me the ultimate opportunity to flex my multicultural muscle—I can experiment with a deep umami dressing, splash out with something spicy or adorned with peanuts, pursue a dish with a tropical twist, or opt for a finish that is a little sweet and a little savory. In an Asian salad, there is heart, home, and love."

Get a taste of Neighborhood with this beautiful salad recipe below that incorporates delicious crisp vegetables, rice noodles, and a recipe for pho dressing with wonderful spices.

Pho Noodle Salad with Tofu, Napa Cabbage, and Broccolini

When we lived in Sydney, my family would often head over to the neighborhood of Marrickville to have a bowl of pho. Well, for the others, not me! I would covetously sit by and literally salivate over the intoxicating bouquet of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and star anise! Having been a vegetarian for over twenty years, pho noodle soup is really one of the only meat dishes that tempts me. So here, I bring my flesh-free pho dreams to life in an irresistible noodle salad.

Vegetarian, Gluten Free
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
¾ lb thick dried rice noodles
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb broccolini, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1 inch pieces
¼ lb Napa cabbage, finely sliced
7 oz five-spice tofu, finely sliced into thin strips
½ lb bean sprouts
1 cup Asian herb leaves (Thai basil, cilantro, green onion, Vietnamese mint, or perilla)
1 long red chili, finely chopped (optional)
1 lime, cut into wedges
Sea salt and white pepper

PHO DRESSING
2 onions, peeled and halved
3 in piece of ginger, peeled and halved lengthways
1 cinnamon stick
5 white peppercorns
3 star anise
3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
6 cups vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon tamari
6 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Directions:

To make the dressing, place the onions and ginger pieces directly on the flame of a gas stovetop or under a very hot grill until they are slightly blackened all over. Heat a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the cinnamon, peppercorns, star anise, cloves, and coriander seeds and toast, stirring to prevent burning, for 30 seconds until aromatic. Add the vegetable stock, tamari, carrots, mushrooms, charred onion, and ginger to the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 60–80 minutes until reduced by a third. Strain. Season with salt to taste and whisk in the olive oil.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil, add the rice

noodles and cook for 6–8 minutes until tender. Drain and refresh under cold running water.

In a frying pan, add the olive oil and pan-fry the broccolini for about 5 minutes, until just tender and lightly charred.

Combine the noodles, cabbage, broccolini, tofu, bean sprouts, and herbs and pour over some of the dressing. Mix together well, making sure everything is coated in the dressing and season with salt and white pepper. Serve topped with chopped chili (if you like) and lime wedges.