This refreshing, gluten-free salad is full of flavor with the punch of rice vinegar, the saltiness of fish sauce, the sweetness of honey or sweetener of choice, and the herby savoriness of cilantro and/or basil. It also happens to be one of my favorite meals right now. Not only is it delicious, but it is packed with nutrients!
While, yes, I eat this just because it’s so good, I also aimed to get a rainbow of produce in this recipe, which adds not only more flavor but also important nutrients, antioxidants, and a wide variety of fiber sources. Win-win!
The other aspect I love about all of the added vegetables is that it helps you stay with an appropriate amount of noodles. We often want a huge plateful of pasta — with this recipe, you can have a large plate of pasta, but half of it is vegetables!
This recipe also works for those of you who are on THM (Trim Healthy Mama) as an “E” meal.
We’ve eaten this meal many times through the summer, and it’s perfect for hot weather, but we eat it year-round.
I named this a Vietnamese recipe, although I do want to clarify that this isn’t a claim to being an authentic Vietnamese recipe, but rather, I’ve used some of the flavor profiles and sauce inspiration from Vietnamese cuisine.
Notes on the recipe:
- Traditionally, a recipe like this would have used white rice noodles, such as rice sticks. I am using whole grain brown rice noodles. You can get something like these stir-fry Thai Kitchen brown rice noodles, though I have been using brown rice fettuccine noodles, as they are cheaper and similar in taste and texture.
- This will need to be served right away. If you aren’t serving it right away, you can keep the elements of the recipe separate, and toss right before serving (toss the noodles with a bit of the sauce and/or oil to keep them from sticking before storing them, however, or simply make the other elements – the sauce, the meat, and the chopped vegetables, and cook the noodles right before serving.
Notes on THM:
- While technically you are supposed to use 96% lean meat for an E meal on THM, because I don’t add any fat to this recipe, I use the 93% grasssfed ground beef that I find locally and I think that works well for fat limits for an E meal. If you don’t use a lean meat here, it counts as a cross-over (XO).
- Honey isn’t encouraged on THM when in weight loss mode, but the ¼ a cup of honey here is pretty small per serving. I’ve tested this with both honey and xylitol, and both worked very well. Allulose should work perfectly too (and is dog-safe, unlike xylitol).
- Brown rice noodles are on plan on THM, but you are encouraged to watch your blood sugar when eating them, if you are sensitive, and to keep your portions small. This recipe works well, because it mixes vegetables with the noodles for a filling meal, without leaning completely on the noodles.
- Cassava noodles are not considered on-plan for THM, but for those grain-free, some find that they do well with occasional cassava noodles (cassava is also a wonderful prebiotic fiber!). Some other grain-free noodle options to play with are here.
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Salad
- 1 lb ground beef (96% or up, for an E meal)
- 1 tsp dried ginger
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp tamari or coconut aminos or fish sauce
- Optional: 1 tsp onion powder and 1 tsp garlic powder
- Optional: pinch or two of red pepper flakes
- Add more coconut aminos/tamari/fish sauce, and vinegar to taste
- Scant ¼ cup honey or ¼ cup xylitol. Other options: Allulose, or of-plan organic white sugar
- ½ cup hot or warm water
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- Scant 1 tsp dried ginger
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 8-12 oz dried pasta *
- 2 cucumbers
- 3-6 green onions
- 2 large bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange)
- 1 bunch of cilantro
- Optional: a few handfuls of (Thai) basil
- 4 cups shredded or thinly sliced cabbage
*We usually use brown rice noodles, but I also tried this with 8 ounces of cassava noodles for a grain-free option. Both worked! But the cassava needs to especially be eaten right away as it will get mushy if left to sit. Cassava noodles aren’t on THM, although some use it as a personal choice option if needed.
- Make the sauce by first stirring together the hot or warm water with the sweetener of choice. Add the rest of the ingredients. Set aside.
- Prep the vegetables: Peel the cucumbers and cut into small wedges. Seed and thinly slice the sweet bell peppers. Thinly slice cabbage, chop the green onions (removing the top two inches and discarding), and wash the cilantro, remove the stems, and chop.
- Cook pasta according to box directions, but make sure you salt well. While the pasta cooks make up the ground beef, adding the seasoning as it cooks, and stirring frequently.
- Drain the pasta once just tender, and rinse with cold water. Drain well. Add to a large bowl with the vegetables, and then toss with the dressing.
- Serve right away. You can also add more rice vinegar and fish sauce to add more flavor if needed. Over time, the noodles will start absorbing the sauce, so, if needed, you can add a bit more vinegar and either tamari, coconut amino acids, or fish sauce, to taste.
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This was so delicious!! Loved finding a Vietnamese flavored dish that uses natural sweeteners and contains lots of veggies. I’m pretty sure this will become a staple in our house!