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Chilled Noodle Salad


We’re in the midst of the first heat wave of 2020 and temperatures have soared over 90 degrees for at least three days in a row. As much as I love cooking, I don’t even like the idea of standing in front of an outdoor grill to make supper when it’s that hot out. That’s when chilled noodle salads are the best option. It takes less than five minutes to cook soba noodles – so your kitchen doesn’t even have to heat up!

Although there are many varieties of Asian noodles to choose from, ranging from the thinnest ramen noodles to thick strands of udon, I like soba noodles for their distinctive flavor and texture. Soba are made from buckwheat and are gluten-free. Coated with a spicy peanut sauce and tossed with crispy vegetables and perhaps some meat, the salad makes a substantial and refreshing meal on a hot summer’s night. I like the extra crunch of chunky peanut butter but you can use any type of nut butter and add a handful of nuts if you only have a smooth, creamy brand.

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
4 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
3 tablespoons sweet (Thai) chili sauce
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root
6 ounces of soba noodles
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup of cooked chicken (optional)
Crushed red pepper
Lime, cut into wedges, for serving

In a small pan or microwavable bowl, heat together the toasted sesame oil and light soy sauce. Add the chunky peanut butter and stir until melted. Stir in the chili sauce and grated ginger.

While you’re preparing the sauce, cook 6 ounces of Soba noodles in boiling water for about 3-4 minutes until just al dente. Drain and place into a large bowl.

Immediately toss the noodles with the peanut sauce to coat well. Add the chopped celery and scallions.

If you have some cooked chicken or other meat, you can toss that in to add a bit more substance to your salad. The flavor will be reminiscent of Chicken Peanut Satay.

Season the salad with a pinch of crushed red pepper and a squeeze of fresh lime juice just before serving. The salad can be served at room temperature or chilled.

If you’d like a little extra crunch, add some more chopped vegetables to your salad – colorful sliced peppers, grated carrots, chopped cabbage or sliced radishes blend well with the Asian spices.