Everyone needs a reliable pasta salad for summer picnics, potlucks and backyard barbecues. This modern, tasty departure from the classic mayo-sauced, spiral-pasta variety is chock full of tender soba noodles, in-season veggies (like crunchy snap peas and sweet peppers) and fresh herbs. It gets a kick from the ginger, garlic and chili paste in the Thai-inspired peanut dressing, which is also yummy drizzled over your favourite grilled meat or tofu skewers.
1/4 cup (60 mL) smooth natural peanut butter
3 tbsp (45 mL) radler
2 tbsp (30 mL) hot water (approx)
2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) grated or minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp (15 mL) soy sauce
1 tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp (5 mL) Asian chili paste, such as sambal oelek or sriracha (approx)
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
Ingredients for the Salad
1 250 g package soba noodles or whole-grain spaghettini
4 cups (1 L) thinly sliced or shredded mixed vegetables, such as green cabbage; red, orange or yellow peppers; cucumbers; snap peas; and/or carrots
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped cilantro
1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped mint or basil
Garnishes, such as lime wedges, chopped peanuts and thinly sliced red hot peppers (optional)
Directions for the Peanut Sauce
1. In a blender, combine peanut butter, radler, hot water, lime juice, ginger, soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic, chili paste and salt. Blend until smooth and runny. If sauce is too thick, thin with more hot water, 1 tsp (5 mL) at a time, until desired texture. Set aside until ready to use.
Directions for the Salad
1. In a large pot, cook soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water and transfer to a large bowl.
2. Add mixed vegetables, green onions, cilantro and mint. Drizzle peanut sauce overtop. Using your hands or tongs, toss to coat and distribute vegetables evenly.
3. Serve with lime wedges, peanuts and hot pepper slices (if using). Add more chili paste to taste, if desired. This salad is best eaten the day it’s made, but leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
This sauce is gently spicy, tangy and bright, but it’s also really flexible — you can add more of any of the ingredients to season it to your liking.
If you like a less-crunchy salad, toss mixed vegetables (except cucumber) with hot noodles.
Make this salad a meal by topping with shredded rotisserie chicken, sautéed or grilled shrimp, or pan-fried tofu or halloumi cheese.
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