These healthy coconut rice noodles are packed with spring green vegetables like asparagus, spinach, peas, and zucchini only need about 15 minutes from start to finish. Vegan, gluten free (with brown rice noodles), and with a creamy coconut milk ginger base.
This recipe was originally published in April 2019. It has been updated with improvements to the text and recipe as of May 2020.
Not Quite Curry, Not Quite Soup
This recipe was inspired partly by Luisa Brimble (in my opinion the top food photographer working in Australia (anywhere?) right now), who often writes about Filipino food and mentioned how coconut milk is often used in savoury dishes that aren’t curries. I had already written down the concept and recipe outline for this dish, but hadn’t yet decided on the exact spices and flavourings that would go into it.
I use coconut milk frequently – often in a vegetable curry, but most often for sweet uses; dairy free ice cream, as the base for a vegan chocolate ganache, coconut whipped cream, or in rice pudding instead of whole milk. The flexibility and high fat content of coconut milk make it invaluable in plant based cooking and baking, replacing cream whenever I’ve needed it.
I had thought coconut milk might be too sweet to use in a dish like these coconut rice noodles without several different spices to balance it out. I was wrong. A good bit of fresh ginger, along with garlic, onion, and piles of green vegetables, provide a good counterpoint to the natural sweetness of coconut, without the need for earthier flavours like cumin or turmeric.
But it’s not quite a curry, and not quite a soup, but something in between. There is a broth, there’s not a lot of it. There aren’t enough spices (only fresh ginger and garlic) to make it a curry. It’s not really anything, but rice noodles in coconut milk are good.
This might seem like a long list, but it’s mostly vegetables and pantry staples. See below for substitutions for the vegetables listed.
- Coconut oil
- Sea salt
- Cayenne pepper
- Coconut milk
- Vegetable stock
- Green asparagus
- (Brown) rice noodles
- Lemon or lime
- Cilantro (optional)
You’ll likely want to start by turning the kettle on, or placing a pot of water on the stove to bring it to a boil. You’ll need it to cook the rice noodles later.
The onion is sautéed in coconut oil for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic, ginger, and zucchini. Zucchini is the only vegetable added before the coconut milk goes in as it really does need to be cooked, unlike peas and spinach. Spices are cooked briefly before adding the liquids.
Coconut milk and vegetable stock go in and you cook just long enough to bring this to a low boil. While that’s going on, cook your rice noodles – go by the package instructions as it varies, but generally submerge them in just boiled water for a couple of minutes. I pour boiling water over the noodles in a large bowl.
Once the broth has boiled, reduce the heat and add the asparagus, cooking just for a couple of minutes. The asparagus should still be bright green and just tender, still pretty snappy. Overcooked asparagus is a waste.
Take it off the heat, stir in the peas and spinach, then ladle over the cooked rice noodles. If your rice noodles got a bit stuck together, don’t worry, the broth will separate them again. This whole process should only take about ten minutes, so make sure you have everything prepped and ready to go to avoid scrambling.
Yes, this is a rice noodle recipe, but you could use soba or another pasta you like. I always do brown rice noodles but white are more available, so go with what you can get.
Any green vegetables you like will be good here. Snap peas, bok choy, other green cabbage, broccoli, green beans, whatever. The ones listed are the ones I like most in this recipe, but use what you have in your garden or refrigerator.
The recipe also calls for frozen peas rather than fresh because they’re more common – if you’re using fresh, ignore the thawing step and simply serve.
The recipe calls for lemon or lime juice strictly because I can rarely get limes here that aren’t imported all the way from Mexico. It’s a long way away so I usually go for Italian lemons instead. Lime is better, but both are good.
If you want to add some coconut aminos or soy sauce, it’s a good addition. Reduce the salt slightly to account for it.
Recipe Tips and Notes
Leftovers are pretty good if the broth isn’t mixed with the rice noodles. If you have leftover broth and veg, store it separately and cook the noodles fresh when you want to eat it. Rice noodles suck up too much liquid to keep for any length of time.
The citrus is key for this recipe, don’t leave it out! It’s flat without.
More Spring Recipes
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- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, matchsticks
- 1 thumb fresh ginger, matchsticks
- 1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 400 ml (13.5 oz) canned coconut milk
- 250 ml (1 cup) vegetable stock
- 250 grams (9 oz.) green asparagus, woody ends removed
- 150 grams (1 cup) frozen peas
- 50 grams (2 cups) baby spinach
- 100 grams (2 cups) brown rice noodles
- 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
- Fresh cilantro for topping
- In a large pot, heat the oil over low-medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the garlic, ginger, and zucchini, cook for another minute, then stir in the spices.
- Pour the coconut milk and vegetable stock into the pot, cover, and increase the heat to high to bring to a low boil. Prepare the rice noodles according to package instructions while you're waiting.
- Once the broth has reached a boil, reduce the heat to medium and add the asparagus, cooking for two minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and just tender.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the peas and spinach. Cover for a minute to let the peas thaw, then ladle out into bowls and add the prepared rice noodles. Top each bowl with a squeeze of lime juice and a few cilantro leaves, and serve hot.
• To make sure this moves smoothly, put the kettle on to boil for the rice noodles when you start to heat the pot, and make sure you have all of your ingredients out of the pantry/fridge before you start.
See above for full recipes notes and substitutions.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 219Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 738mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g
This data is provided by a calculator and is a rough estimation of the nutritional information in this recipe.