asian cold noodle salad, aka using the basket ingredients

VEGETARIAN | GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE

Time from start to finish: 20-25 minutes
Difficulty level: easy peasy

In my kitchen, my proudest moments come when I am able to be truly resourceful: take leftovers, combine them with things in my pantry and fridge, and create something entirely new and unexpected. It makes me feel like I’m competing on Chopped — although I usually don’t have durian or “rainbow rope candy” lying around, and Ted Allen isn’t there to narrate everything (and the judging process isn’t nearly as intense). Last night, I was trying to decide what lunch I wanted to make today. When my friends were in town this weekend, I spent a little too much moola at restaurants — so I didn’t want to run to the store. I decided to play a little game of Chopped instead.

For this meal, my “basket ingredients” were:
  • Leftover strip steak
  • Red cabbage slaw (chopped red cabbage, red onion, and red bell pepper)
  • Spring mix
  • Leftover Asian slaw dressing
In my pantry and fridge, I found:
  • Rice noodles
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Crispy chickpeas
  • Tons of Asian sauces and condiments
  • Raw cashews
  • Basil, from my brave little plant
I decided to make this Asian-inspired cold noodle salad. This awesome guide to cold noodle salads from Bon Appetit was super helpful. Packing the noodles/veggies separately from the dressing and crunchies kept the noodles al dente, the veggies crisp, and the crunchies crunchy. As Borat would say, great success! I topped this noodle salad with leftover steak, but it is totally filling and yummy (and vegetarian) without it. This recipe is just for the noodle salad, not the steak (click here for my favorite steak recipe).

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 head red cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, small diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, small diced
  • 1 large handful of baby spinach
  • 1 large handful of rice noodles (ramen or linguine would also do)
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup Good Beans Crispy Chickpeas (sea salt)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp.+ olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. sesame seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. (As always, start by chopping all your veggies as listed in the Ingredients list).
  2. Cook your noodles according to package instructions. Err on the side of al dente — you don’t want soggy noodles! For my rice noodles, this was approximately 5 minutes of boiling. I always like to set a timer for noodles so I don’t overcook them. While the noodles are cooking, make your dressing: combine soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, ginger, garlic, and sesame seeds in a mason jar or small glass container. Set aside.
  3. When your noodles are done, immediately drain and rinse them in cold water, then drain them again, getting out as much of the water as possible.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, toss noodles in a healthy splash of olive oil. This will keep them from sticking to each other. Then, add the chopped cabbage, onions, and red bell pepper.
  5. Toast your cashews: place them in a small pan, over medium heat, tossing occasionally, until they are fragrant and have a nice golden color.
  6. If serving immediately: toss noodles with veggies and dressing, then add the cashews and crispy chickpeas.
  7. If you’re packing this salad for your lunch: pack the noodle/veggie combo in a large Pyrex container. Bring the cashews and crispy chickpeas in a snack-sized Ziploc bag, and the dressing in its own container. When you’re ready to eat, dump the dressing in the Pyrex, toss it all together, and then add cashews and chickpeas. Enjoy. 
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