Cold Asian Noodle Salad with an Almond Butter-Lime Dressing
The weather here in Colorado is absolutely divine right now! As I threw open all my windows and doors over the weekend and went into a cleaning spree to rival none other, I also started craving all those picnic foods and potluck dishes that call out to me as soon as the weather is even slightly warm. I’ve never been a huge pasta salad person though. I’m super picky about my pasta and will NEVER eat pasta reheated. I think noodles have a completely different texture reheated and it’s not a good one! I also don’t like pasta cold that much. Especially smothered in mayonnaise. Now that’s just gross!
If you’re like me and don’t appreciate the traditional mayonnaise-based pasta salads, you might want to try this salad out instead. This one has not even a hint of mayonnaise and uses sweet potato starch noodles instead of the traditional semolina ones. A sweetly tart dressing with a base of almond butter makes for a “pasta” salad unlike any you’ve ever tried! It’s filled with ginger, lime, and garlic and I honestly believe it’s the best summer salad you’ll eat this year! Not only is it gluten-free, but it’s also dairy-free, grain-free, and completely Paleo! Nix the chicken, sub in some crispy flat tofu and it’s also a solid vegetarian dish! The dressing has fish sauce in it, which is key component, so I can’t recommend it as vegan. If you don’t need it to be Paleo, you could easily sub in peanut butter for the almond butter if you’d like. Peanut butter is much cheaper 😉
You might be wondering, where does one get sweet potato starch noodles? I’ve never seen them in regular grocery stores but you can usually find them at an Asian store or I’ve even seen them at World Market. They’re also widely available through Amazon.com. Again, if you don’t need it to be Paleo friendly, you could swap out the sweet potato noodles for rice vermicelli noodles or spaghetti (gluten-free or regular, your choice). I think my least favorite choice would be spaghetti, just because, like I said, I don’t like cold regular pasta! Rice noodles are fairly easy to find in regular grocery stores. I’ve even seen them in Walmart. I’ll link my first choice on noodles below for you, if you need some suggestions!
This salad is a wonderful dish to bring to any potlucks you might be attending this summer. It’s easy to double or even triple to make enough for a crowd. It’s also the perfect blend of sweet and tangy so even those little kiddos will love it! And what kid doesn’t like noodles? I’m know this will be a big hit at all those parties you’re attending! Hey, I brought to game night over the weekend and everyone raved about it! What’s not to like? Feel free to add whatever mix of veggies you’d like to this as well. I would have added cucumbers but I was out of them and didn’t realize it until half way through preparation. You could also add some bell peppers, red onions, or bean sprouts. That would make for such a fun, colorful dish! Be creative! Salads are the best way to get rid of any veggies you might need to use up soon.
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 8 ounces dried sweet potato starch noodles
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- 3-4 green onions, finely diced
- ¼ cup chopped mint
- Handful of chopped almonds
- For the dressing
- ½ cup almond butter
- 1 T Asian fish sauce
- 3 T coconut aminos (or 2 T gluten free soy)
- 1 T lime juice
- 1 T rice vinegar
- 1 T sesame oil
- 1 T fresh ginger, grated finely
- ¼ cup minced cilantro
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a blender or use an immersion blender. Puree until all ingredients are combined. Refrigerate for at least an hour so all the flavors meld together.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken in a baking dish and pour ¼ cup of the dressing over the top. Bake for 1 hour or until chicken is fully cooked through. Cool and shred chicken. Set aside.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and then turn off heat. Add the noodles to boiling hot water and let sit for 10 minutes or so until noodles are soft. Drain and coat lightly with sesame oil so noodles don’t stick together. Chill in refrigerator.
- To assemble: Place noodles on bottom of large serving bowl. Arrange the rest of the salad ingredients and chicken across the top of the noodles and sprinkle fresh herbs, chopped almonds and dressing over the top. Serve cold.