Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The answer to a hot summer evening: Asian Noodle Salad

This is a newly formed friendship, but one that has earned a solid, everlasting place in my summer heart. Do you ever feel like you will do almost anything to avoid turning the oven on in summer? Even if it means eating cereal.

Problem solved! Asian Noodle Salad.

This was a recipe from The Pioneer Woman, a blog I have come to read far, far too often. Lazy hausfrau that I am. But I occasionally get off my tush, and make a fun recipe or two - no? And all my 'computer work' (ahem- blog/internet surfing) provides me with cooking inspiration. It's a viscous circle.

For this recipe, I made some modifications that personally, I feel are required. The original recipe, as my friend Michelle said, is a bit like eating your backyard. Tasty, and still delicious, but a little too heavy on the leaves. For me. It's a personal taste thing here.

I find it incredibly important to add tofu, and not forget the cashews. If you are a meat eater, add some cooked chicken (I'm ok with meat, I just don't eat it or cook it. But I'll recommend it.).

This salad is also a great way to use leftovers - as you can substitute any veggies you prefer or have on hand. I lessened the amount of veggie's the original recipe called for, again, trying to weed out that 'backyard'. But fill-er-up or back-off based on your personal preferences.

Also, since I've made this recipe twice, I adjusted which leafy produce I used - first time around, I used baby spinach leaves and napa cabbage. Second time, I used napa cabbage and red cabbage. I much prefered the second version. So that's how I wrote up the recipe, although my pictures will show you spinach leaves.

The sauce, though, is the real money-maker for this recipe. So whatever adaptations or versions you make, just don't mess with the saucy-sauce. Otherwise, cut, chop, boil some noodles and enjoy!

Asian Noodle Salad
adapted from The Pioneer Woman, who adapted it from Jamie Oliver (whew- this recipe gets around!)

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 package linguine noodles - cooked, rinsed and cooled (my noodles were warm, which is OK too)
1/2 head sliced Napa cabbage
1/2 head sliced purple cabbage
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 orange bell pepper, sliced thin
Chopped cilantro - up to one bunch
1 cup whole cashews, lightly toasted in skillet (I zapped mine in a mini-processor after toasting)
1/2 pound green beans, ends cut off and cut in half
1 package firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes (you can marinate the tofu if you like in soy sauce, up to 1 day ahead - I highly recommend marinating it, yum!)

Additional veggies the Pioneer Woman used: fresh spinach leaves, scallions, yellow bell peppers, bean sprouts, and cucumber

Cook linguine noodles, according to package directions and set aside. Whole wheat noodles would be fantastic in this salad!

While linguine is cooking, chop and mix the cabbage through cashews in a bowl and set aside.

Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil, on med-high heat in a skillet. Once oil is hot, add your green beans and saute for 3-4 minutes. They should still have some crunch. Remove from heat and let cool.
* This step is optional, I like my green beans a bit cooked. But they would be fine in the salad raw.

Place 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over med-high heat. Once oil is hot, add cubed tofu. Allow tofu to brown on most sides - should take approximately 5 minutes total. Stir frequently. Remove from heat and add both beans and tofu to the vegetable mix.

In a large serving bowl, mix the noodles and vegetables together. It's ok if the noodles are all clumpy and stuck together. The sauce will loosen them right up!

Set aside, and make your dressing...


Juice of 1 lime
8 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
2 cloves chopped garlic
2 hot peppers or jalapenos, chopped
More chopped cilantro

Mix dressing ingredients together, and pour over salad just before serving. Dressing keeps up to three days before serving, WITHOUT cilantro.

I should have also mentioned that Tim doesn't like cilantro. My sister either. So, no problem! I made the salad and dressing without the cilantro and sprinkled (a ton!) on top of my own plate. If you have more than two people for dinner, chop and place the cilantro in a bowl and let everyone add their own as it pleases them.

My plate, full of cilantro!

Tim's plate, without delicious cilantro

Guten appetit!

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