Now that the full blast heat of summer is upon us it seems like all I want to eat is salads. Or maybe I should more correctly say all I want to cook is salads, since I’ve certainly jumped at the chance to eat my father-in-law’s homemade hamburgers and the occasional barbecue we’ve been invited to. As an aside, I’ve recently learned that those of us on the west coast will use the term “barbecue” as a noun like that, meaning a party or an informal get together wherein food is grilled. I read that somewhere and thought it was interesting because I didn’t know that was native to our coast, though it makes sense since our grilling season is like our summers–long. So you’ll have to forgive me if I use the term “barbecue” incorrectly for your region. This is my coast and I’m sticking to it.
I came across this recipe while searching for salads to make utilizing the delicious and versatile soba noodle. It’s Japanese in origin and it’s made from sturdy buckwheat. I happened to be cleaning out the fridge and pantry for dinner one night, and noticing our reserves were low, decided to make this Serious Eats salad with some very major changes owing to what I had on hand. Feel free to adapt the vegetables to what you have on hand, or omit some entirely. The chicken is completely optional. The results were delicious and though this salad is best eaten the first 48 hours after it is made if you use rice noodles, as they become mushy if left to sit around for longer.
- 1-2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
- 10 oz cooked and drained soba or rice noodles
- 2 carrots, diced, though I roughly chopped up shredded carrots–either are fine
- 1 large bell pepper, diced
- 3 scallions, sliced
- 1 cup roast peanuts
- 2 tbs sesame seeds
- a handful of cilantro, torn or roughly chopped
- 6 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 2 small garlic cloves, finely minced or grated with a microplane
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, or 2 tsp dried ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon honey – more if your peanut butter is low sugar
– Take your peanut butter out of the fridge and chop your vegetables and cook and shred your chicken. Keep ingredients on hand while you make the dressing. You want to have everything on hand before you start the noodles. The moment they are cooked and drained you’ll want to dress them so they don’t become gluey.
– Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients and whisk until well combined. If your peanut butter is at room temperature this will be so much easier. The Serious Eats recipe suggests combining them all in a food processor, which will certainly do the trick, but it is not necessary and besides it’s all the way in the garage and you really don’t want to mess with it.
– Cook the noodles according to package instructions, drain in a colander, and toss to combine in a large salad bowl. You’ll want to toss gently if you aren’t using soba because rice noodles are so delicate. It’ll take awhile to get everything combined but don’t lose patience. Just keep mixing. This is good chilled, at room temperature, and still warm from cooking. Enjoy.