Asian Noodle Salad tossed with a wickedly delicious dressing that’s creamy, peanutty, with a hint of sesame, tang of lime and mild hit of chilli. I would die a happy girl if I drowned in this dressing (morbid but true). Great lunch idea for work because it’s super tasty served cold!
Noodle Salad – Lunch Idea for Work!
This noodle salad is the sort of thing I used to take into work for lunch back in my corporate days. I was never a sandwich gal. I mean, let’s face it. Sitting in an air conditioned cubicle in front of a computer all day isn’t exactly stimulating. Most days, lunch was the most exciting part of my day.
Hence – skip the sambos.
Enter – Asian Noodle Salad with creamy peanut dressing!
Great COLD lunch – and lasts for days!
There’s not many dishes other than salads that are genuinely great cold – or intended to be eaten cold. There’s even less salady type things that last for days, given that the moment salads are dressed they start to wilt and lose freshness.
And therein lies the reason why this noodle salad was a regular in my work lunch rotation. Adaptable, no need to heat it up, and it’s truly just as good today as it is tomorrow and the next day – and the next!
What you need
In case I hadn’t already made it clear – this noodle salad really is all about the dressing. I use commercial peanut butter spread here ie the type loaded with sugar and extra oil and salt because all these flavourings are part of what makes the dressing so tasty.
If you make this with natural peanut butter, refer to the recipe notes – we need to jack up the flavourings a bit.
For the noodle salad itself, the idea here is to use vegetables that won’t wilt into a watery mess the minute it’s dressed. I’ve gone with: beans, capsicum (bell peppers), carrots and bean sprouts. Other ideas for vegetables include:
- Cabbage (white, green, red)
- Zucchini (yes, raw, it’s great!)
- Snow peas
- Thinly sliced raw broccoli
- Red onion
- Lightly blanched asparagus, snap peas, cauliflower
Avoid things like lettuce, spinach, cucumber and tomato unless you’re consuming it on the day.
I like to use any fresh thin egg noodles (ie pale yellow noodles sold in the fridge section) such as thin Hokkien noodles because I am partial to the slightly chewy, slippery texture in this noodle salad. But I’ve made this plenty of times with just about every other noodle I use – rice noodles, ramen noodles (toss the seasoning packs), dried egg noodles and yes, I’ve even used pasta!
Also a great Asian side dish!
I know I’m talking this up as a lunch idea for work, but this Noodle Salad is also a terrific option as a side dish for an Asian meal (or Asiany, you know the sort I mean!). I see this alongside things like:
- Asian Marinated Chicken or Chinese BBQ Chicken
- Chinese Chicken Wings
- Asian Glazed Salmon or Honey Garlic Salmon
- Foolproof Poached Chicken Breast with Ginger Shallot Sauce
- Asian Chilli Garlic Prawns (Shrimp) or even non Asian Garlic Prawns
- Thai Marinated Chicken (Gai Yang) or Southern Thai Grilled Chicken
Also, it would be great to serve as a side to make a meal out of small-bite type Asian things such as:
- Spring Rolls
- Chinese Lettuce Wraps (San Choy Bow ) (also the Thai version would be great)
- Thai Fish Cakes
All this tasty food talk is torture. I need to sign off and get into the kitchen to make dinner! ~ Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Noodle Salad With Creamy Sesame Peanut Dressing
Recipe video above. A vegetable noodle salad with a dressing that’s creamy, peanutty, with a hint of sesame, tang of lime and mild hit of chilli. GREAT work lunch idea – keeps for days, terrific served cold. Try adding shredded chicken! Also great side for Asian meals. Serves 3 as a meal, or 4 to 5 as a side.
- 1/4 cup peanut butter (, preferably smooth (Note 1))
- 1 tbsp sesame oil (, toasted (Note 2))
- 1 tbsp canola oil ((or other neutral oil))
- 2 tbsp soy sauce ((Note 3))
- 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- 1 tbsp sriracha ((adjust spiciness to taste))
- 2 tbsp lime juice ((sub rice or cider vinegar))
- 1 garlic clove (, minced)
- 2 to 4 tbsp water (, if needed)
- 350g / 12 oz fresh egg noodles ((about 4 cups, packed))
- 1.5 cups carrot (, julienned (1 large or 2 small carrots))
- 2 cups beansprouts
- 1.5 cups green beans (, halved)
- 1.5 cups red bell pepper/capsicum (, finely sliced (1 large))
- 3 green onion stems (, finely sliced on the diagonal )
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds ((preferably toasted))
- Prepare noodles according to packet directions (most just require soaking in hot water). Drain, rinse and set aside to cool.
Dressing – Mix together Dressing ingredients, using water only if needed to loosen so it can be tossed through salad. If you reduce Sriracha, might need to add smidge more lime.
Beans – Steam or boil green greens until just cooked, tender but still crisp. Drain under running water to cool.
Toss – Place salad ingredients in a big bowl, toss with dressing.
Garnish with sesame seeds then serve at room temp. Keeps 4 days in the fridge.
1. Peanut Butter – commercial spread is what I use in this recipe ie sweetened. If you use natural peanut butter (ie pure peanuts, not added sugar etc), you’ll need to add about 2 tsp sugar and 1/4 tsp salt into the dressing.
2. Toasted Sesame Oil is dark brown and has a more intense sesame flavour, Untoasted is yellow (not common in Australia).
3. Soy Sauce – all purpose or light soy. Don’t use dark soy or kecap manis, flavour is too intense.
4. Noodles – I use thin hokkien noodles because I like the slippery, slightly chewy texture in this noodle salad, the type that is sold in the fridge section that just requires soaking in hot water. But any noodles work fine here – rice, egg, fresh, dried, even ramen (use 3 cakes, toss seasoning). Just prepare per packet.
5. Other Vegetable options – anything that won’t go watery limp once dressed:
- Shredded Cabbage (white, green, red)
- Zucchini batons (yes, raw, it’s great!)
- Snow peas, thinly sliced raw broccoli, red onion, corn
- Lightly blanched asparagus, snap peas, cauliflower
Avoid: lettuce, spinach, cucumber, tomato
6. Adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe.
7. Serves 3 as a meal, or 4 to 5 as a side.
Originally published July 2014, updated May 2019 with new photos, rewritten post, addition of recipe video and most important, added Life of Dozer! No change to recipe – it’s just as tasty as its been for the last decade I’ve been making it!
Life of Dozer
Dozer spent most of yesterday afternoon in the car with me as we travelled all over the north side of Sydney doing flower and foodie drop offs for Mother’s Day, to the various special mothers in our lives.
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