The hit of the Friday night Blathering dinner was easily the Thai Noodle Salad, and here is the promised recipe. Please forgive my vagueness when it comes to amounts and tell yourself that it means that this is easy peasy and anyone can do it!
Start with a big bowl. No, bigger. This makes A LOT of salad.
Take a head of whatever kind of lettuce you want, and slice it crosswise in thin strips. I like to use napa cabbage, but you can use romaine or even green and red cabbage. Whatever floats your boat.
Then add your other veggies – I always use cucumbers, peeled and then with the insides scooped out, then sliced into half moons. Also good are red/yellow/orange pepper strips, shredded carrots, bean sprouts, thinly sliced radishes, etc.
Next slice up about a half a red onion into thin half moons and throw that in.
At this step, you can also add a protein if you want. I have used sauteed tofu, grilled chicken, and grilled pork, but if you want to make it vegan you can leave the meat out and it will still be delicious.
Then add some sliced basil or mint. I don’t usually use both, I just alternate with whatever one I have around. You want a fair amount of it though – several springs of mint, a biggish handful of basil. Chop that up and throw it in there.
Then add cooked rice noodles. You can also use cooked spaghetti noodles if you want or even cooked ramen noodles, but then it won’t be gluten free. Whatever you have around is fine though. Dump those in there.
Then you need to make your peanut sauce. This is sort of subjective, but get a medium sized bowl and add a combination of peanut butter, soy sauce, cayenne pepper, honey or brown sugar, lime juice, garlic powder, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and black pepper. You want to use the most amount of the peanut butter, but play around with adding small amounts of the other ingredients until you get the flavor you like. I mix this up with a wire whisk because otherwise it can be sort of hard to get it to come together. Then add water until it’s the consistency that you want – it will start out pretty thick, which is good for a dipping sauce, but not as easy to use a dressing, which is what you’re going for.
When you get your sauce how you want it, dump it over your salad, mix everything together, and top the whole business with ground up peanuts and sliced scallions (green onions). And then dig in!
*Don’t be afraid to swap things out. Don’t have rice vinegar? Use apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, whatever. Play around with the flavors.
*If you’re making the salad ahead of time, keep the dressing and the peanut/scallion topping separate and only mix it right before you serve it. But make sure to toss the salad even without the dressing so the noodles don’t clump together in the fridge.
*Peanut sauce really does make everything better, if not hideously more fattening. It’s awesome on chicken satay, grilled tofu, brown rice, dumplings, etc.