Asian Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing

featuredMy husband has been out of the country for a little while, and I took the opportunity to make something with peanuts–his least favorite food in the whole wide world. He’s not too keen on olives either, but peanuts make him gag. Even the smell of them–peanut butter on the dog’s breath–makes him shudder. I, however, adore all things peanut. So here we are.

This salad is best made the day it is served, otherwise the dressing–when refrigerated for an extended period of time–tends to get too thick.

Asian Noodle Salad (serves 4)

8 oz. (227g) or half a typical box of dry spaghetti
1/4 teaspoon (1.75ml) salt
1 small cucumber, seeded and cubed, peeled if you like
1 medium carrot, grated
1 green onion/scallion, green part, sliced
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
8 oz. extra firm tofu, cut into Julienne strips (you could also use cooked chicken)
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Sesame oil
Salt
Other possibilities for vegetables: bell pepper, mung bean sprouts, daikon radish–any vegetable that tastes good and is appropriate to eat raw. And don’t worry about exact amounts. If you love carrot, use several. Etc.
The pretty little flowers on top of the salad are cilantro flowers. Herb flowers always make a lovely addition to any salad if you can find them. All it takes is an unattended garden with herbs going to seed… boom, you have flowers.

For the dressing:
1/4 cup (60ml) creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsps. (30ml) water
2 Tbsps. (30ml) rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. (15m) soy sauce
1 Tbsp. (15ml) sesame oil
1 Tbsp. (15ml) chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) sugar (I used coconut palm)
1/4 teaspoon (1.75ml) grated garlic
1/4 teaspoon (1.75ml) grated fresh ginger

Mix all of the ingredient together and refrigerate until ready to use.

dressing

Blot the tofu with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle the tofu with a little salt. Heat two tablespoons of sesame oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. Add the tofu and cook, turning to brown on all sides. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

fried tofu

Cook the pasta until tender but firm (al dente) in water seasoned with the 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Drain and rinse with cold water until the noodles have cooled. Drain thoroughly.

Toss the noodles with the dressing, vegetables and peanuts, reserving a little of each for garnish.

tossed

Divide the noodles between the serving dishes, top with remaining vegetables, nuts, tofu, and chopped cilantro.

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