The days are warmer and it’s time for fresh choices for lunch and dinner. This Herbed Cucumber, Bean, and Pea Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing is just what we need for warmer spring night dinners out on the porch. Spring has sprung! Maybe the calendar doesn’t know it yet, but spring has arrived in Brisbane and I am happy to greet her with open arms. When I felt spring sweeping through town this weekend, and saw all the green at the markets this weekend, I knew something luscious, herbaceous, unapologetically verdant had to come out of my kitchen this weekend. This salad delivers on all those fronts. It’s all very simple really. You start with some really good rice noodles, a whole bunch of green spring vegetables (beans, snow peas, and cucumber), add handfuls of loud and proud herbs (coriander, mint, and basil), add a little crunchy attitude (capsicum and spring onion) and then toss through the most flavoursome Asian-inspired peanut dressing. I love the way this salad relies on handfuls of herbs for it’s leafy green factor. While I love spinach, using herbs as the leaf base for salads turns up the flavour volume to 11!
Let’s talk more about the dressing. I can guarantee, if you are a regular cook, you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen pantry already. And what is a successful salad dressing anyway? Some days, I love a simple squeeze of lemon juice, a swirl of dijon mustard, or a little splash of garlic-infused olive oil. When you move beyond the basic one ingredient dressing, you need an oil + an acid + other flavours. Here we take a super flavoursome oil, toasted sesame oil, add a suitably aggressive acid, lime juice, and then sprinkle in heaps of other fun flavours: peanut butter, garlic, brown sugar, and a tiny pinch of chilli flakes. This dressing takes an already interesting and hearty salad over the top into wow territory. This salad is sturdy and not at all in danger of becoming a limp remnant of its younger self, which makes it perfect for picnics, potlucks, or lunches to last the week. If you want to be super safe, leave dressing the salad until just before you serve it. However you choose to serve it, please make this salad soon because it’s just what your tastebuds have been searching for, I can promise you that. Let’s celebrate the days as they start to lengthen and welcome spring and summer nights back to our half of the world.
Herbed Cucumber, Bean, and Pea Noodle Salad with Peanut Dressing
adapted from here
| gluten free | vegan | serves 4 | leftovers: keep refrigerated in an airtight container up to two days
serving suggestion: to make this salad even heartier serve with baked tofu (like this) or some chicken (for the omnivorous)
For the dressing
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- pinch of chilli flakes
For the salad
- 100 grams gluten fre rice noodles, prepared as per package
- large handful of green beans
- large handful of snowpeas
- 1 small cucumber
- 1/2 small red capsicum
- 3 green onions
- 1/2 bunch coriander
- 1/2 bunch mint
- 1/2 bunch basil
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Prepare the salad dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Prepare the rice noodles as per the package instructions. Rinse under cold water, drain very well and add to a large bowl. Poor over half the dressing and toss the noodles well. Let them soak up the dressing while you prepare the rest of the salad.
- Top and tail the beans and snow peas and add to a microwave bowl with a small splash of water. Steam in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Remove and drain well. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Slice the cucumber into small half moons, thinly slice the capsicum into 2.5cm (1 inch) wide slivers, and slice green onions into thin pieces.
- Roughly tear the leaves of the coriander, basil, and mint into smaller pieces.
- Add beans, snow peas, cucumber, capsicum, green onions, and herbs to the bowl of noodles. Toss very well to coat everything in the dressing.
- Tip out onto a serving platter, top with remaining dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds.