This time of year, what materializes for dinner is largely decided by two factors: first, what can I make that will use up the contents of my farm share, and second, how willing am I to turn on the oven.
And so this week, the stars aligned for peanut noodle salad, a refreshing meal that would make great use of a heap of cucumbers and scallions, one that would not require turning on the oven.
On Tuesday, I made these soba noodles, a recipe I’ve loved for years but which on that particular day left me wanting — the noodles tasted gummy, the dressing unbalanced.
Eager to get it right, the following day I made the same salad using a different dressing, the peanut-ginger dressing in this chopped salad, and I used frozen udon noodles, whose thick texture I love. With one bite I knew: there she was, crisp and cool, herby and bright, just the meal I needed as the summer heat and humidity ushered me into a state of lethargy.
The beauty of this salad is its versatility: you can use any raw vegetables, herbs, or noodles you have on hand. The key to success here is twofold:
- Use thinly sliced vegetables, ideally with a mandoline or spiralizer. I have this old turning slices, which I love for its simplicity, but it’s very expensive. I also have this one, which is more reasonably priced, and which works beautifully. One of you — thanks, Kathleen! — introduced me to this one, which arrived yesterday, and which I have yet to give a go… stay tuned.
- The peanut-ginger dressing, which is so tasty, and which I’ve made with all varieties of peanut butter from Jif to Maranatha, but know that you can use almond butter or other nut butters if peanuts are a problem. I’ve doubled the original recipe and added a splash more lime juice as well as a few teaspoons of chili-garlic sauce (Sambal Oelek), the addition of which is optional. You can make a half recipe, of course, but if you’re going through the effort, I highly recommend the larger quantity — it will keep for at least two weeks in the fridge and can be used for many a salad, noodle or otherwise.
Cold Peanut Noodle Salad, Step by Step
The magic of this salad starts here, with the dressing: Whisk together peanut butter, fresh lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, maple syrup, water, chili-garlic sauce (optional), and a pinch of sea salt.
Grate in some fresh garlic and ginger. Taste and adjust to taste as needed.
Store dressing in the fridge for as long as two weeks. It’s so nice having this dressing on hand.
Gather your salad ingredients: cucumbers, scallions, peanuts, noodles of choice, and cilantro, if you wish.
Spiralize or thinly slice your cucumbers.
Boil your noodles:
I love these frozen udon noodles. I get them at the Asian Supermarket in Albany.
Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking and cool them down.
Gather your salad components: chopped peanuts, sliced scallions, picked cilantro leaves, spiralized cucumbers, cooked noodles, and peanut-ginger dressing.
Toss the noodles with some of the dressing first.
Then add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Add more dressing to taste.
Serve immediately or …
… pack into quart containers for later.
Dressing recipe adapted from this Chopped Thai Satay Salad recipe.
- Peanut Butter: I’ve used more natural brands such as Maranatha and Trader Joe’s to Jif and Skippy, and the dressing tastes great regardless. If using a natural brand, be sure to stir it prior to measuring to ensure the oil is emulsified.
- Cucumbers: You can use any variety you like. I’ve been using my farm share cucumbers, and after I spiralize them, they’ve been weighing about 8 ounces, which is a nice amount for this amount of noodles.
- Peanuts: I’ve been using Trader Joe’s roasted peanuts, 50% less salty. It’s nice not having to toast peanuts, so look for roasted peanuts if you are shopping.
- Spiralizer options: I have this old one, which I love for its simplicity, but it’s very expensive. I also have this one, which is more reasonably priced, and which works beautifully. One of you — thanks, Kathleen! — introduced me to this one, which arrived yesterday, and which I have yet to give a go… stay tuned!
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1/4 cup water plus more as needed
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
- 2 teaspoons grated or finely minced fresh ginger
- 2 to 3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce, such as Sambal Oelek, optional
- Flaky sea salt such as Maldon
For the Salad:
- 1 lb. frozen udon noodles or 8 oz. dried noodle of choice
- 1 to 2 large cucumbers, about 12 to 14 oz pre-sliced, see notes
- 2 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced to yield a scant cup
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, optional
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup peanut-ginger dressing plus more to taste
- Make the dressing. In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, maple syrup, water, ginger, garlic, and chili-garlic sauce, if using. Season with a pinch of sea salt. Taste. Adjust with more lime or salt to taste. As the dressing sits, it may thicken. If it does, thin with a tablespoon of water until it reaches the right consistency.
- Boil the noodles: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the udon or noodles of choice according to package instructions. My frozen udon noodles have been taking roughly 5 minutes to cook through. Drain and rinse under cold water.
- Prep the cucumbers: I’ve been loving using my spiralizer for this one. You could use a mandoline, too, or you could simply slice your cucumbers as thinly as possible. To spiralize, cut off the very ends of each cucumber, then fit the cucumber into the spiralizer and turn until the cucumber has been transformed into thin whisps. I’ve been using about 8 ounces of spiralized cucumbers for this recipe.
- Make the salad: Place the noodles into a large bowl. Pat dry with a towel if still wet. Toss with 1/4 cup of the dressing. Noodles should be nicely sauced. Add the cucumbers, scallions, cilantro, if using, and peanuts. Toss again. Taste. Add more dressing to taste if the salad seems underdressed — I usually add a splash more — or a pinch of sea salt if it tastes underseasoned. Serve immediately or transfer to quart containers and stash in the fridge. Store extra dressing in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Asian, American
Keywords: cold, peanut, noodles, sesame, ginger, lime, udon