I’ve always thought that having a noodle salad in my packed lunch would be rather cool. I’d be the kind of person who owned (and used) a bento box and would be able to competently handle chopsticks, rather than just owning a pair in every colour of the rainbow and always opting for a fork. My noodle salad of dreams would be light and tasty; there would be texture and contrast, zest and warmth; it would be the perfect balance of acidity and creaminess. I would have reached noodle nirvana.
The real story of this particular noodle salad is that it was created more by accident than by design - the combining of leftover noodles from one meal, prepared and chopped vegetables from another and a dressing that had turned out so well, I was desperate to use it rather than lose it. May I introduce you to this Thai Style Rainbow Noodle Salad.
So what is in this noodle salad?
It starts with a base of soba noodles - the thin, greenish buckwheat noodles from Japan - which are drizzled with sesame oil and then tossed with finely sliced raw vegetables and a punchy Thai inspired dressing. You can also add chicken, pomelo segments (or a sweet grapefruit as a substitute) and a sprinkling of peanuts, if you fancy. A touch of fresh coriander at the end is non-negotiable. It really does tick all my boxes for noodle nirvana.
Here is what I have learned about making this noodle salad -
- You can absolutely prepare all the parts beforehand and then combine them when you're ready to serve. The cooked noodles may need running under the tap to loosen them a little. Remember to drain them well.
- I mix the dressing in a screw-top jar and I make a generous amount. I might use half to two-thirds of the dressing when I first mix the salad and then save the balance to either serve alongside or use to perk up the leftovers. It's a dressing that is very versatile so having it in your fridge for a few days will be no hardship.
- In the recipe below, I've described exactly which vegetables I used but this is a flexible recipe so use whatever you have or whatever you prefer. As a guide, my prepared vegetables filled a 1 litre (2 pint) measuring jug up to the very top.
- The pomelo is a really lovely addition to the salad, but I'm aware that it is not always easy to find. If you find one which is whole and unprepared you will be cursing me by the time you get to the flesh of the fruit (it is thick and tough and feels like hard labour) but if you can get it already prepared then definitely go for it (it's my favourite fruit without a doubt). A sweet grapefruit would be a good substitute but neither is essential.
I think you'll love this Thai Style Rainbow Noodle Salad. Here's why -
- It is a wonderful way to 'eat the rainbow', you know' - that phrase that is banded around and is hard to achieve. Including red cabbage alongside yellow peppers alongside carrots alongside sugar snaps, creates an incredible visual impact and your gut will thank you too.
- And that rainbow is super pretty - this dish really is a looker.
- You can make it more filling by adding cooked and shredded chicken + a sprinkling of peanuts. I'm also thinking that cooked prawns might be good to ring the changes.
- This is a great 'light lunch' dish but also behaves beautifully in a packed lunch.
- Leftovers are exceptional.
And my teenage daughter tells me that she always gets 'wow, that looks good' comments from her peers when she has this noodle salad in her packed lunch. Surely that is all the evidence I need to support my theory that noodle salad = cool. As far as being cool enough to ditch the fork and effortlessly eat noodles with chopsticks, for me that is probably in another lifetime….Print