Crunchy Peanut Noodle Salad
I make some variation of this peanut noodle salad at least once a week (proof here) and I don't get tired of it. The spicy peanut dressing and crunchy vegetable combo strikes that healthy-but-satisfying balance, it's easy to prep, stays fresh in the fridge, and is extremely adaptable (any and all vegetables welcome). It's a weeknight-dinner-and-leftovers-for-lunch kind of situation that's always a win around here. If you don't eat peanut butter, almond butter works too. And if you're trying to eat (even more) veggies, I've made this with spiralized sweet potato noodles and it was just as magical.
When life takes us outdoors again (finally), salads strike a balance between light and refreshing (spring/summer) and filling and satisfying (fall/winter). Healthy salads are our go-to lunches because they are nutrient-dense and, with the right ingredients, give us enough energy to power through our afternoon (some healthy chocolate snacks help too...)
To keep the salad fresh until tomorrow's lunchtime, you’re going to need two things: a portable container for the salad (we use wide-mouth quart size mason jars with these leak-proof Tulid lids) and a layering strategy. Here’s how to properly layer the ingredients so the salad stays fresh until lunch...or another weeknight dinner...enjoyed with a cold drink in a wine glass, perhaps.
1. Start With the Dressing
Pour 1/2 of the peanut dressing into the bottom of each jar.
2. Add Harder Fruits and Veggies
In go the red pepper, cucumber, and carrot; anything that would taste good slightly “pickled” from the dressing will work in other salads.
3. Add Beans, Grains, Pasta, and Noodles
Here we’re using noodles, but you can use grains or beans for other types of salads.
4. Add Cooked Protein or Cheeses, If Using
I didn’t add protein to this salad, but feel free! Chicken or tofu would be amazing here. Need salad protein ideas? Look no further.
5. Add Salad Greens
We like about 1-2 cups per salad. If you plan to eat the salad straight from the jar, just leave some room at the top so you can shake up all the ingredients when you’re ready to eat it. And make sure your greens are completely dry before packing (hello, salad spinner).
6. Pack and Enjoy
Pack salads in jars and keep upright. If bringing to work, keep in the fridge until lunchtime. Once you’re ready to eat, shake the salad out of the jar and onto a plate. Toss lightly toss with a fork. Enjoy!
Crunchy Peanut Noodle Salad
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons smooth, natural (no sugar added) peanut butter (see notes)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon low sodium gluten-free tamari
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or honey
- 1-2 tablespoons water, plus more to taste
- drizzle of sesame oil (optional)
- 2 servings (about 4 oz dry) soba noodles, rice noodles, or gluten-free pasta of choice (see notes)
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 4 scallions, light green parts thinly sliced
- 1/4 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
- 1 small cucumber, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 small green cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/2 lime, for serving, optional
- 1/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts (see notes)
- Make the noodles. Fill a medium saucepan with water, bring to a boil and then add 4 oz (about 2 servings) of soba or gluten-free noodles of choice. Cook according to package instructions, drain, and set aside to cool.
- Make the peanut dressing. Chop the garlic, grate the ginger and then add all ingredients to a mason jar and shake well.
- Prep the vegetables. Grate, chop, and slice the vegetables and set aside separately.
- Pack the salads. Lay out two quart sized mason jars. Put the following in each jar, bottom to top (this is one serving): 1/2 of peanut dressing, 1/2 chopped red pepper, 1/2 chopped cucumber, 1/2 grated carrot, 1/2 cooked noodles, 1/2 chopped cilantro, 1/2 chopped scallion, 1 cup thinly sliced cabbage (or whatever fits in jar). For each salad, keep 2 tablespoons of roasted peanuts separate and sprinkle on top when ready to eat.
Not a peanut person? Almond butter also works for the dressing and roasted almonds are a great topping.
For a grain-free option, use a spiralizer to make noodles, like zucchini noodles or sweet potato noodles.
Packed salads will stay fresh in the fridge for 3-4 days.