It’s summertime and living is easy. I don’t know about you but when summer hits, I’m much more interested in soaking up the heat from the sunshine rather than at the stove.
Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking and do think about food ALOT (occupational hazard), but when it’s hot out I’m always looking for ways to beat the heat of the kitchen and without sacrificing flavour or good nutrition.
Enter the cold noodle salad. The only cooking required is boiling some water and some light chopping. This is a great option for picnics or a patio party as they can be made ahead and actually taste better the longer they sit. It's a great combination of healthy fats, protein, and carbs that'll keep your energy up even if that's just to laze around on the beach or in the backyard.
You can play around with this and substitute for different vegetables as well as the type of noodles depending on what you have on hand so it's perfect to pull together on short notice if your pantry's stocked (see my previous postall about stocking your pantry.)
Go ahead and get creative!
Cold Noodle Salad
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
6 to 8 tablespoons water, to thin out to desired consistency
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 fresh Thai (also sold as "bird's eye") chile, minced
1 tbsp sesame oil
8 ounces thin rice noodles (roughly the width of linguine)
3 or 4 napa cabbage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup snap peas, thinly sliced
1 cup radishes, thinly sliced
1 handful chopped fresh herbs, preferably a combination of basil, cilantro, and mint
1 medium sized mango, cut into chunks
2 cooked shrimp or tofu, optional
1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Siracha sauce or other hot sauce to taste
To prepare the dressing, combine the peanut butter, fish sauce, lime juice, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 6 tablespoons of water, garlic, chile and sesame oil. Whisk well. If it’s too thick, add more water to thin it out. If you'd like more sweetness, add more maple syrup 1/2 tablespoon at a time. Remember that you're going to be putting this dressing on unsalted vegetables and noodles: you want the dressing to have a lot of flavor, but it shouldn't knock you over. Pour into a serving bowl. (Covered and chilled, the dressing will keep for 3 days to a week.)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Pour over the rice noodles, and let stand for 10-15 minutes,
until tender but not mushy. Immediately drain the noodles into a colander, and rinse them well with cold water. Lay out a clean kitchen towel on the countertop, shake the colander to drain away excess water, and then spread the cooked noodles on the towel to drain further.
Divide the noodles between good-sized bowls and top with the vegetables, herbs, and shrimp or tofu. Scatter the peanuts on top. Allow each person to spoon on dressing to taste. Toss well and eat.
*If you're going to make this ahead dress the noodles reserving a bit of the dressing and the peanuts to add when you're ready to serve.*