Based on the pastel blue and purple-tinted foods cluttering our Instagram feeds, it seems the rainbow trend has been re-incarnated into unicorns and mermaids. (And it’s not just food. Check out these unicorn home decor products, too).
In addition to unicorn lattes, Starbucks beverages, and pastel-colored toast, we’ve also seen unicorn noodles all over our social feeds. The trend originated with a blogger in the Netherlands called Indigo Kitchen, who has started calling his creations “rainbowls.” Other bloggers have since caught on, creating giant bowls of rainbow rice noodles.
Our one problem with the trend? Without tossing the noodles in some type of sauce or broth, these “rainbowls” can’t possibly be very flavorful. To create a unicorn dish we’d actually want to eat, we stuffed our noodles into summer rolls filled with fresh fruit, veggies, and herbs.
The process is simple (watch us do it here!). Start with half a head of purple cabbage, about 8 cups chopped. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, then add the chopped cabbage. (If you want to make fewer noodles, simply scale this down, keeping the 1:1 ratio of water to cabbage). Let the cabbage boil for at least 5 minutes. The longer it cooks, the more intensely purple the water will become.
When you’re satisfied with the color of the water, strain over a bowl of thin rice noodles, such as rice sticks or rice vermicelli. Cellophane noodles will work as well—any noodle that cooks by being soaked in hot water. The water should cover the noodles entirely, so only use as many noodles as will be submerged by the liquid.
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Let the noodles soak for at least 5 minutes. Again, the longer the noodles soak, the more vibrant the color will become. Remove half the noodles from the water, then squeeze lime or lemon juice into the bowl with the remaining noodles and water. Immediately, you’ll be able to see the liquid turn a bright pink hue. Allow these noodles to sit for 10 minutes more, which will dye them pink.
Now you’re ready to roll. Dip your rice paper wrappers in warm water for about 5 seconds on each side—they should soften but still retain some firmness (the paper will continue to soak up water as you pile on the fillings, so you don't want it totally limp). For even more unicorn flair, use the dyed water for dipping the papers to turn them lightly pink. Add a torn piece of bibb lettuce to the bottom third of the rice paper to help secure the rest of the fillings, then top with a small handful of noodles and whatever fruits and veggies you please. We like fresh mango, cucumber, carrots, red bell pepper, avocado, and mint. Take the bottom of the wrapper and pull it over the top of the fillings, fold in the sides, and roll it up, finishing seam side down. Cut in half diagonally, and voila! A unicorn spring roll fit for kids and adults alike.
We suggest dipping them in a peanut-ginger sauce (try this sauce, replacing the tahini with peanut butter).