Colorful and healthy Thai Noodle Salad with peanut dressing is a wonderful meal to enjoy for lunch or dinner.
No one ever said salads must be boring. Take this Asian-inspired spicy Thai Noodle Salad, for example. Don’t be put off at the thought of eating cold noodles. They are deliciously refreshing on a hot day, with the peanut sauce helping to tame the heat of the optional chili peppers, and the vegetables provide a contrast to the soft rice noodles. This recipe is an ideal healthy meal you can enjoy on the go or at home!
What are Rice Noodles
Rice noodles are made using rice flour and appear in many Asian recipes. Using rice flour means they have a softer texture and a more mild flavor than wheat noodles. Since rice noodles are translucent, many people call them glass noodles, and you may find some manufacturers marketing the noodles under this name. There are several rice noodles varieties, including rice vermicelli and chow fun, but for this Thai glass noodle salad, the best ones to use are the rice stick noodles.
One of the more unusual aspects of rice noodles is that you don’t have to boil them. To cook glass noodles, all you need to do is to pour boiling water over them and let them sit for around 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. This makes rice noodles an excellent choice to prepare when you don’t have access to a full kitchen.
Whipping Up the Peanut Butter Dressing
The peanut butter dressing is the heart and soul of this Thai glass noodle salad recipe, but it’s also an excellent marinade for any grilled Thai-inspired dishes. To get the best results, choose natural peanut butter without any additional sugar and a low-sodium soy sauce.
- Put the peanut butter in a medium mixing bowl.
- Pour the rest of the ingredients into a separate bowl along with just enough hot water to melt the honey.
- Give the honey mixture a few stirs to combine and pour it into the bowl with the peanut butter.
- Stir to combine. The dressing should be just thick enough to cling to a noodle without clumping. You may need to add a little hot water to reach the correct consistency.
Making the Salad Your Way
Once you prepare the noodles and the peanut butter dressing, the rest of the Thai Rice Noodle Salad ingredients are pretty much up to you. If you want, stick to the recipe completely, go for it, but don’t be afraid to make it your own. Here are a few suggestions:
- Add shredded cold chicken or beef. The additional protein helps to turn the salad into more of a complete meal. Season the meat with the same spice mixture you use for the peanut butter dressing.
- Toss in some tofu or tempeh. These are great meat-free options for making the salad more filling. Try marinading the tofu or tempeh in the peanut butter dressing before stir-frying.
- Switch up the vegetables. Consider adding a few aromatic veggies like thinly sliced red onions or scallions.
Tips for Storing and Packing Thai Rice Noodle Salad
- Cooked rice noodles don’t last too long in the fridge. Don’t make too many noodles to avoid having to throw them out.
- Store peanut butter dressing in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can last up to five days when stored properly.
- When packing the salad to go, separate each component. Rice noodles are very soft and will become gummy if mixed with the sauce for too long.
Thai Noodle Salad Ingredients
This beautiful and healthy salad has a few components. Here are lists of what you need for the salad, dressing, and garnish. Scroll down for substitutions and extra additions.
For the noodle salad:
- Rice noodles
- Red bell pepper
- Red cabbage
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh mint leaves
For the Thai salad dressing:
- Smooth peanut butter
- Ginger powder
- Garlic powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Soy sauce
To garnish the salad:
- Red chili pepper
How to Make Thai Noodle Salad
- Soak the rice noodles in lukewarm water or according to the package instructions until soft.
- Place bell pepper, cabbage, cucumber, carrots, peanuts, cilantro, and mint in a large salad bowl.
- Place peanut butter, ginger powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, soy sauce, and honey in a bowl. Whisk until combined and smooth.
- Drain rice noodles and add them to the salad bowl.
- Mix all salad ingredients together.
- Pour dressing on the salad and toss until well combined.
- Adjust salt, spices, or honey if needed.
- Serve the salad cold and garnish as desired.
Recipe Notes and Ingredient Substitutions
- Add sliced beef or chicken for additional protein.
- Seafood like shrimp will also fit perfectly.
- If you are vegan and you want it to be high protein, swap the rice noodles to quinoa or black rice.
- You can substitute the peanuts with cashews or almonds.
- You can substitute the peanut butter with almond butter or tahini.
- You can substitute the rice noodles with soba or pad Thai noodles
Optional Vegetables to Add to the Salad
Add these tasty veggies or swap them out with others to make the salad to your liking:
- White cabbage
- Roasted beets
- Green and yellow bell pepper
- Bean sprouts
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