Bright, refreshing and packed with citrus-spicy-salty flavours, cold noodle salads are a hot weather saviour. Here are three simple recipes to try now.
When the heat is on, it’s hard to decide what you really fancy to eat. Nothing heavy or rich, but nothing so insubstantial that your stomach is grumbling an hour after you’ve eaten.
Noodle salads, in all their bright, crunchy beauty, are exactly the kind of light summer dish we want. Deliciously light and zingy, they’re a burst of flavour for the tastebuds and a total cinch to make for a WFH lunch or picnic in the park.
As the name suggests, all you need to throw together a tasty dish is a handful of noodles, crisp vegetables and a good dressing. Of course, all salads can be customised according to your personal preferences, so leftover cuts of meat, fresh herbs, and a dash of chilli wouldn’t go amiss - you can work with whatever you’ve got to hand.
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With that in mind, we’ve three delicious noodle salad recipes below. Tim Anderson’s ramen salad is inspired by hot summer days spent in the Japanese archipelago. Locals love their ramen chilled, which is a tip we can definitely get on board with. Pippa Middlehurst’s soba salad with tricolour peppers, red cabbage and cherry tomatoes, meanwhile, is the very definition of eating the rainbow.
Finally, Ella Mills’ cucumber and cashew noodle salad is a vibrant green version that’ll make you look forward to leftovers. Enjoy.
Tim Anderson’s ramen salad (hiyashi chūka)
Tim says: “Summers in most of the Japanese archipelago are brutally hot and humid, hardly conducive to ramen eating, which is the culinary equivalent of sitting in a steam room. So ramen shops in Japan usually offer something like this chilled ramen salad, called hiyashi chūka, to get the customers in. The noodles ensure it’s a substantial meal, but it’s still light and fresh”.
- 100g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp caster or granulated sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 100g mixed salad leaves – try to get a mix of peppery/mild and crunchy/tender – I like pea shoots and rocket
- ½ cucumber, julienned
- 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
- 4 portions of uncooked ramen noodles
- 240ml sesame dressing (recipe below), thinned with a little water and salt or soy sauce
- 2 avocados, sliced about 3 mm thick
- a few pinches of sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350°F/Gas 6).
Toss the cherry tomatoes together with the soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil, then transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, until they’re slightly shrivelled and browned. Leave them to cool, then toss them together with the salad leaves, cucumber and carrots.
Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil. Cook the ramen a little more than al dente (the noodles firm up a lot when you chill them down), then drain and rinse very well under cold running water – they should be thoroughly chilled, with as little excess starch as possible. Drain well, then toss with the dressing of your choice.
Transfer to plates or shallow bowls, along with any dressing left in the bowl, then top with the salad mixture, avocado slices and sesame seeds.
‘Deep roast’ sesame dressing
Tim says: “Sesame dressing is truly wonderful stuff, addictively creamy and tangy, and rich with the irresistible nutty aroma of sesame. You can buy it in Asian supermarkets (and by all means do so, it’s tasty and inexpensive), but it’s also dead easy to make at home, with ordinary supermarket ingredients.
This recipe really ramps up the roasty-toasty aroma by pan-frying the sesame paste to provide an incredible bittersweet, caramelised flavour.”
- 100g tahini
- 100g sesame seeds
- 300ml soy milk
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 90ml vinegar
- 2 tbsp caster or granulated sugar
- 90ml (6 tbsp) soy sauce
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp dashi powder
Tip the tahini and sesame seeds into a frying pan, ideally non-stick, and set over a medium-high heat. Fry for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until it is noticeably more aromatic and darker in colour (it should go from camel-coloured to… let’s say taupe).
Remove the tahini from the pan and leave to cool, then stir in the remaining ingredients until the sugar dissolves. Store in the refrigerator for 1 week (it will start to taste a bit stale after this; if you don’t think you’ll get through it quickly enough, the recipe is easily halved).
From Vegan Japaneasy: Classic & Modern Vegan Japanese Recipes To Cook At Home by Tim Anderson (£22.99, Quadrille), out now
Pippa Middlehurst’s rainbow soba salad
Pippa says: “This recipe is not an authentic one. I didn’t eat it on my travels, perched on a plastic stool in the street. I didn’t get the recipe from a chef I met on a train journey. However, I did throw it together for a family party in the Peak District, and it went down a storm, even with the children.”
Serves 6-8 as part of a meal
Preparation: 15 mins
Cooking: 5 mins
- About 400g dried soba noodles (4 nests)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and julienned
- 1 red (bell) pepper, julienned
- 1 yellow (bell) pepper, julienned
- 250g mixed cherry tomatoes (red, orange and yellow, if available), halved
- ¼ red cabbage, shredded
- 4 spring onions (scallions), julienned
- 8 radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 large red chillies, deseeded and julienned
- 1 small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped
- 1 small handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 small handful of basil leaves, torn
- 2 handfuls of roasted peanuts, roughly chopped or bashed
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- salt, to taste
For the dressing
- 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 3 tbsp red wine or sherry vinegar
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2.5cm (1in) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
- juice and grated zest of 1 orange
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 1 tbsp runny honey
Cook the noodles in boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Do not overcook! Drain and then rinse in plenty of cold water before setting aside.
Using a whisk or handheld stick blender, mix all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.
Combine all the vegetables and half of the herbs in a large mixing bowl.
Toss with the cooked noodles, then pour over the dressing and toss again so that everything is well coated and shiny.
Serve on a large platter, topped with the remaining herbs, chopped peanuts and sesame seeds and season with salt.
From Dumplings And Noodles: Bao, Gyoza, Biang Biang, Ramen – And Everything In Between by Pippa Middlehurst (£16.99, Quadrille), out 20 August, available to pre-order now
Ella Mills’ cucumber and cashew noodle salad
Ella says: “Everyone loves noodles, so this is the kind of recipe I make for friends and family when they’re coming over. It looks beautiful – vibrant and green – and it tastes so fresh thanks to the mint and lime. It’s a great lunchbox option too; just take the dressing in a separate little pot and stir it together when you’re ready to eat.”
- 4 portions of noodles (we use brown rice noodles but you can use whatever you like best; about 80g per person)
- 100g frozen edamame beans
- 1 cucumber, chopped into bitesize pieces
- 1 avocado, peeled, stoned and chopped into bite-sized pieces
- handful of mint leaves, chopped (about 10g)
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- 1 tbsp black sesame seeds (if you don’t have both black and white sesame seeds, you can double the quantity of one of them)
- 100g cashews, toasted
For the dressing
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 2 tbsp wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown rice miso paste
Place a large saucepan of salted water over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook the noodles following the instructions on the packet – adding the edamame beans for the last 3 minutes. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cold water to prevent any further cooking.
Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together in a small bowl with a pinch of salt.
Place the cooked noodles and edamame beans in a large mixing bowl and add the remaining salad ingredients. Pour over the dressing and stir through before serving. I like to keep back a few cashews, mint leaves and sesame seeds to sprinkle on top.
From Deliciously Ella: Quick & Easy: Plant-Based Deliciousness (£25, Hodder & Stoughton), out now
Images: India Hobson & Magnus Edmondson; © Nassima Rothacker; Nassima Rothacker © Hodder & Stoughton 2020
Christobel Hastings is Stylist's Entertainment Editor whose specialist interests include pop culture, LGBTQ+ identity and lore.