spicy peanut dressing

spicy peanut carrot and cabbage salad

I’m sure that I’ve said this before, but one of my favorite little kitchen gadgets is a simple julienne peeler.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

The one I have is a sturdy dishwasher-safe stainless model by Kuhn Rikon that I found at Whisk for about $20, but there are a lot of other options out there on the market. The basic idea is sort of similar to a regular vegetable peeler, but with teeth running along the blade so that in one motion you end up with perfectly julienned strips of whatever you’re using it on.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve also used vegetable spiralizers that produce similar results, and while spiral slicers offer more options and variation, my julienne peeler is sturdier, smaller, and cheaper than even the smallest handheld spiral slicer.

Although it has tons of uses, my favorite use for this nifty little guy is to peel strips of carrot for salads, slaws, asian dishes, and garnishes.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Now that the weather is warming up I’ve been looking for light summery (I know we’re not quite there yet, but a man can dream) salads and cold dishes to eat on hot days. One of my favorite warm weather meals is a soba noodle salad with lots of veggies and a spicy peanut dressing.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was thinking about making that very dish, it’s one that I make a variation on at least once or twice every summer, but I thought it might be fun to try it without the noodles this time. Instead of the cold soba noodles I opted for long thin julienned strips of fresh carrot, and thinly shredded savoy cabbage.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you’re looking to add a little extra protein to this salad I think that laying some thinly sliced grilled chicken breast or lean steak over the top makes for a gorgeous presentation. To make things even simpler, you could just pull the meat off of a store bought rotisserie chicken and toss it all together with the other ingredients. My local grocery store recently started doing air-chilled organic chickens on their rotisserie too, which I think is a really nice option to have. Easy, delicious, and good quality!

If you wanted to keep the salad vegetarian, I think some roasted chickpeas would also be a really nice option!

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Added protein or not, this salad is pretty stellar.

The cabbage and carrot softens ever so slightly but still offers a pleasant crunch in every bite. The peanut dressing is thick and creamy and ever so slightly spicy and tangy from the vinegar and lime juice. The green onions and basil add even more green earthiness and flavor, and the toasted peanuts add great texture and flavor. It’s the perfect meal for the warm weather to come, and keeps well for a day in the refrigerator if you want to pack it for lunch. It would also be the perfect make-ahead meal for a picnic!
If you do decide to make it ahead, just be sure to wait to add the toasted peanuts until serving or they can absorb the oils in the dressing and lose their crunch.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Carrot and Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

Dressing:
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter (reduced sugar or sugar free is best)
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
1 garlic clove, finely minced or crushed
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges of an additional lime for serving

Salad:
4 cups thinly shredded savoy cabbage, loosely packed (about half a head)
3 cups julienned or shredded carrots, loosely packed (about 4-6 large carrots)
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced or torn
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted or pre-roasted

Combine all dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and lump free. If using sweetened peanut butter, taste before adding the honey.

Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl. If making ahead, reserve the peanuts and wait to add until just before serving. Pour the dressing over the top of the salad and toss like mad until well combined. It may seem like there isn’t enough dressing but the cabbage will begin to wilt once tossed and the dressing will stretch. Of course, if you like a heavily dressed salad you can increase the dressing recipe. Serve with lime wedges if desired

Salad will keep, refrigerated and well covered, for at least a day.

If desired, top with thinly sliced lean steak or chicken breast, or toss with pulled rotisserie chicken meat or roasted chickpeas.

Advertisements

soba noodle and chicken salad with spicy peanut dressing

Okay Summer. I guess you’re here to stay.

soba noodle and chicken salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I don’t know what it is about warm weather, but it makes me crave cold peanutty noodles. At least the fact that it’s hot out means that I have plenty of fresh summer veggies at my disposal. Filled with all that produce, this salad really is the perfect thing for a hot muggy day. Can you think of anything you’d rather eat in this weather than something that’s filling without being heavy, and cold and refreshing but also savory and flavorful at the same time?

No. You can’t.

soba noodle and chicken salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I usually make this once or twice every summer and that’s all I need to pacify my craving. The recipe makes enough that Russell and I both get to bring the leftovers for lunch, and if we don’t go crazy on the portions, we might even have something left to snack on the day after that.

soba noodle and chicken salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve made this enough times now that I’ve been able to get the dressing and everything just the way I like it. I’ve tried a few different recipes and some of them were too sweet, others too salty, others waaaay too complicated. Each time I’ve fiddled and futzed and streamlined the recipe to make it as simple and delicious as can be.

soba noodle and chicken salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

The only slightly time consuming part of this is cooking, cooling, and pulling the chicken. If you wanted to speed things up, and avoid turning on the oven for a day, you could plan ahead to cook extra chicken the night before, or use leftover chicken from yesterday’s roast. You could even leave it out or substitute it for another vegetable. A rotisserie chicken could work too, but I worry that all that seasoning might be too strongly flavored and could compete and clash with the flavors in the dressing. Maybe not though?

soba noodle and chicken salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

If everything you put into the salad is relatively cool or cold, you can definitely eat it right away without needing to refrigerate it, and since the veggies go in raw and the peanuts and soba noodles are done in just a few minutes, this really is quick and easy to throw together if your chicken is cooked ahead.

soba noodle and chicken salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

To some, the ingredient list here might seem a bit daunting, but please don’t be scared. The dressing is so distinctive and flavorful that you’ll be glad you took the time to go out and find fish sauce and sesame oil. If you’re like me, you probably already have these things in your fridge anyway, but if you don’t, you can find them in most grocery stores pretty easily these days. Then you’ll have them and can start experimenting with all kinds of new recipes to add to your repertoire.

Once you get everything together, making the dressing is as easy as throwing everything in a bowl and whisking it. If you’re not a fan of heat and spice, you could reduce or even skip the sriracha, but I think it really adds something wonderful to this cold dish.

If you’re not familiar with Soba noodles, they’re a Japanese buckwheat noodle that’s usually cut so thin that it cooks in 5 minutes or less. They’re subtly nutty, and hold their texture in broth or dressing, so they lend themselves perfectly to both cold salads and hot soups. They’re often gluten free too, but some companies add wheat so be careful to read the label if that’s important to you. If you can’t find them you could also use regular thin spaghetti, or even spiral sliced zucchini noodles like the ones I made here.

soba noodle and chicken salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

This salad is totally perfect for summer weather, whether it’s sunny and mild, or too hot and sticky to leave the house. It’s especially great to take with you for lunch if sitting in front the A/C in your underpants all day isn’t an option.

The dressing is thick, creamy, and perfectly peanutty with a nice sesame backbone, a little sweet acidity from the lime, a bit of saltiness from the soy and fish sauce, and just a touch of heat from the sriracha. Not only is this salad packed with flavor, it also has a great variety of textures to keep every bite fresh and interesting. There are crunchy toasted peanuts, crisp snow peas and peppers, tender noodles and chicken, and a dreamy creamy dressing to tie it all together.

soba noodle and chicken salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Soba Noodle and Chicken Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

2 chicken breasts, skin-on & bone-in
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
9.5 oz soba noodles
3 carrots, very finely julienned with a julienne peeler, mandolin, or spiral slicer
1 red bell pepper, cut into very thin strips
1/3 lb snow peas, hard stem-ends removed
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts (extra for plating if desired)
lime wedges and torn basil or cilantro for plating, if desired

Peanut dressing:
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup smooth natural (unsweetened) peanut butter
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon sriracha chili sauce
2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon honey (if using sweetened peanut butter, use 1 teaspoon honey instead)

Preheat oven to 375. Place chicken breasts on a parchment lined baking sheet, rub with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from oven and cool. Once cooled, remove skin and pull meat from bone. Shred chicken into bite sized pieces. Set aside.
In a heavy skillet on high heat, toast peanuts for about 5 minutes. Cool, roughly chop and set aside.
Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Rinse in cold water, drain, and place in a large bowl. Add prepared carrots, pepper, and snow peas, as well as cooled pulled chicken and peanuts. (If desired, reserve some peanuts for serving)
To prepare dressing, place all remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Pour over salad and toss toss toss until everything is well dressed and evenly distributed through salad. If desired, top with a few reserved roasted peanuts, a lime wedge, and some torn basil or cilantro.