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[Photograph: Lauren Rothman]

Although spring officially started more than two weeks ago, it's only just beginning to feel like winter might be ending. But today, in my neck of the woods, the sun shone, the breeze lacked the bite it's had for months, and it finally seemed possible that the retirement of my winter coat might be nigh. And I noticed today, too, that my cravings are shifting: away from the hearty winter soups, stews and braises, and towards the lighter, more refreshing fare of warmer weather.

In my last column, I shared a recipe for a cheesy, baked cabbage and kale gratin. That recipe left me with exactly one quarter of leftover green cabbage, which languished in my fridge for days, the sorry sight of it greeting me each evening when I got home. What am I going to do with one quarter of a cabbage?

Slice it; toss it with a Vietnamese-inspired dressing of fish sauce, garlic, lime juice and sugar; fold it into cooked rice noodles; and garnish it with sliced tofu and chopped salty peanuts. The dish took all of 15 minutes to create and was positively addictive, the chewy rice noodles contrasting with the crunchy cabbage and the sour lime juice tempered by the sweetness of the sugar. A very haphazard lunch turned out to be something special.

This rice noodle salad is incredibly quick and easy to throw together, and the combination of noodles, cabbage, tofu and peanuts makes a filling, satisfying main course. The recipe does call for fish sauce, so if you don't eat fish, be sure to look into a vegan substitute.

About the author: Lauren Rothman is a former Serious Eats intern, a freelance catering chef, and an obsessive chronicler of all things culinary. Try the original recipes on her blog, For the Love of Food, and follow her on Twitter @Lochina186.

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