As I struggled up the last hill towards home, the thought of a big lunch dampened the pain on my burning legs. I was ready for my reward after an overly-ambitious bicycle ride with the boys–lots of food! I inched along, mentally itemizing the contents of my refrigerator and pantry. This was one day when carb-loading would be enjoyed guilt-free. Pasta? Check, but I didn’t want to spend time on the stove to make a sauce. Then I remembered that I had leftover kale and cabbage from the previous night’s salad; a sesame vinaigrette would be easy to whip together. What got me up the last quarter mile climb? The thought of filling my belly with an Asian-style noodle salad.
Normally, a simple plate of noodles tossed in a ginger-sesame vinaigrette is enough to satisfy me but with the joy of completing a ride that I didn’t think I would finish came the motivation to throw in whatever else I could to kick up a notch an otherwise very basic dish.
This may have been the product of odds and bits I had in my refrigerator but after tasting it the first time I wouldn’t make it any other way. All of these ingredients were meant to be together (well, my husband would like me to omit the cucumber but I happen to like it) but adjust to your liking. If you don’t like peanuts, use almonds. If cilantro tastes like soap to you, use parsley. Omit the chicken if you want this to be vegetarian but in my opinion you can’t have too much kale and cabbage in this noodle salad. As for the dressing, it’s a simple base of rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger and garlic but I like to spice it up a bit with sambal oelek. Feel free to add your favorite chili sauce instead. I’ve served this three or four times in the last couple of weeks…hopefully, you’ll like it as much as I do.
- *for about ⅔ cup of dressing*
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons sambal (or any chili sauce you prefer)
- 2 Cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger (or 1 tablespoon fresh, grated)
- 3 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil (I use a light olive oil for almost everything but you can use any neutral oil you prefer)
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- *Salad Ingredients*
- Leftover roast chicken (1 cup)
- ½ pound cooked spaghetti
- ⅓- 1/2 head of green cabbage, sliced thinly
- 6-8 kale leaves, sliced thinly (I use dinosaur kale aka lacinato or Tuscan kale–more delicately flavored than curly kale so it’s pleasant to eat raw)
- Thinly sliced red onion (about ⅓ of a regular-size onion)
- 2 Persian cucumbers diced (or ⅓ of a regular cucumber)
- Chopped scallions (2 – 3 stems)
- Chopped cilantro
- Roasted peanuts
- To prepare the vinaigrette, combine the ingredients from the vinegar to the oil in a bowl and whisk until emulsified. Taste and add a pinch of salt if you feel it needs it. Set aside while you prepare the salad.
- In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients together and add the vinaigrette (in increments until it’s the way you like it). Toss together, plate and serve.