Cold Noodle Salad with Chicken in Peanut Sauce

I may have had a very mini meltdown when my husband got home from work yesterday. Reflecting back with fresh eyes, I realize there really was no real reason for it; my life, as a whole, is very good. But sometimes the big picture gets away from me and all the little pieces falling between the cracks seem to swallow me whole.

It's basically my issues with control and consistency and predictability- all things I had little of throughout my childhood.

But, back to yesterday- after a buildup of long days, withering patience, my favorite little buddy turned psycho ass hole (aka motherhood with an almost 3 year old) and a complete lack of any real social life (aka motherhood), the meltdown was coming. To decompress during times like this I usually run or workout or both. Some people drink, some people paint, some people buy clothes, and then some people eat an extra large pizza or tub of ice cream.

I run. and then I run some more. The gym is my happy place. The gym is the one time each day when no one is touching me or pulling on me or demanding something from me. You guys, I need this time- this introverted time- in the best of times and especially in the worst of times (no matter the reason). So, when I was called to come get my child just a quarter mile into my run, that was it.

I couldn't control my wild child and I couldn't control the gym daycare staff. I couldn't make them see that my child is not bad or mean he just really wanted to wear his stupid backpack blower, not leave it hanging on a hook, and their cold demeanor toward him just fueled his discontent. Despite my very best efforts, I couldn't make my son understand that his behavior is unacceptable- at least not yesterday.

But mostly, I couldn't go on my run. And I needed the silence that comes with a nice long beautiful hard run.

Thankfully, my husband watched my child while I took the dog on a run instead. I couldn't push her as long or as hard as I wanted, but by that point, I was thankful for anything.

Today has been better, mostly. Octavian slept in until 745am (what!?) and didn't get us kicked out of the gym (hooray!), but he did skip nap. Like, completely. You guyyyssss, I even drove him around in the car! Nope, no nap.

Yep, thanks for the sleep in, Kiddo, but let's stick to the nap, ok?

Tales of motherhood aside, there is also this oh so beautiful salad. Seriously, guys, I put the thing together and almost didn't want to eat it because it was just so darn good lookin'. 

Thankfully I'm not nuts and I did eat it. Once I started I couldn't stop. I finished every last bite.

Cold noodle salads have always been a favorite of mine, but something I've only made personally a handful of times. I don't know why, they're healthy, easy to make and taste like a million bucks. Actually, I have no idea about that last one, but I would spend at least $20 on this salad if I didn't know I could make it myself. 

Fresh herbs like cilantro, mint and basil are the key to an amazing cold noodle salad. If you think you're adding too much, you're adding just the right amount. And the veggies- I always love adding shredded carrot and cucumber, but the sky is the limit! Don't hesitate to add blanched broccoli or sugar snap peas or cauliflower. Meat is optional, but with this noodle salad I wanted chicken in a creamy peanut butter sauce. The combination of the dressing with the peanut sauce with the cold noodles and fresh herbs is like a party in your mouth.

Cold Rice Noodle Salad with Chicken in Peanut Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes  / Cook Time: 20 minutes  / Total Time: 50 minutes
Yield: 2-4 servings

Ingredients

For the Chicken:
olive oil
1.5 pounds boneless/skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into small bite sized pieces
salt + Pepper

For the Peanut Sauce:
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (plus more to taste)
6 tablespoons peanut butter
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (for heat)
salt, to taste

For the Dressing:
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 serrano pepper, finely chopped
salt, to taste

For the Salad:
2.5 ounces dried mung bean noodles, cooked according to package instructions
4 cups lettuce (iceberg, romaine, cabbage), finely chopped
1 cup bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup carrots, julienned
2 cups cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 cups bean sprouts
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 cup peanuts

Instructions

  1. Cook dried mung bean noodles according to package instructions, taking care not to overcook the noodles. You can even prepare the noodles ahead of time and store in the refrigerator until ready to use. To unstick your noodles when ready to eat, simply place in a cold bowl of water, draining water well before serving.

  2. Chop and prepare vegetables for the salad- the lettuce, bell pepper, carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts, mint and cilantro. Arrange on a large plate or bowl and add cooked and drained cold noodles. Set aside.

  3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and chopped chicken pieces. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and stir to mix chicken around the skillet. Allow chicken to cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is fully cooked (cooking time will vary depending of size of chicken pieces), approximately 8-10 minutes.

  4. As the chicken cooks, carefully whisk together all the ingredients for the peanut sauce in a medium bowl. Continue to mix until fully incorporated. Taste and add any additions you feel necessary- additional peanut butter, fish sauce or rice vinegar are usually the three ingredients I turn to to find the perfect balance between sweet, savory and salty.

  5. Once chicken is cooked, turn heat to low and add gently combine half the peanut butter sauce with chicken. Cook over low heat just until sauce is warmed, approximately 1 minute, adding more sauce if needed. Remove from heat and set aside.

  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the salad dressing, again tasting and making any additions if necessary.

  7. Top Salad with Peanut Chicken and drizzle with your fresh lime dressing. Top with chopped peanuts and serve :)

Enjoy!
 

Hello! Let's Connect.

- INSTAGRAM -

Previous Posts.

Eat Your Veggies (and Shrimp) Salad with Avocado Cilantro Dressing

30 Minute Spinach and Artichoke Chicken Skillet