Sacramento has been so hot the past two weeks that I needed a little break from hot meals. Between running errands (translation: loading and unloading my 34 pound squirming toddler in and out of a hot car several times within an hour) and playdates at the pool (translation: chasing my 34 pound toddler around the pool until I finally follow through with the threat to leave because he just will NOT listen, which then involves redressing a very pissed off 2-year old, packing up with one hand while the other hand prevents pissed off kid from booking back to the pool, dragging him to the car and, yep, you guessed it, loading my kicking, screaming kid back into the hot car).
That was yesterday (not to mention the hour it took to get him to fall asleep for a nap that lasted 45 minutes).
So, with the temperature well over 100 degrees nearly every day for two weeks, I've decided to break up with hot foods for a day and give my body a chance to chill. Plus I get super grumpy when I'm too hot, so to all those around me, you're welcome.
Along with the cold element of the dish, I also wanted something fresh and healthy. In my mind, this always translates to veggies and salad. Now, did I want a literal green lettuce salad or a noodle salad? Did I want to add chicken or keep it vegetarian? The answer to these questions were easy for me, but are super easy to change and modify if you're in the mood for something a little different.
Since I've been running a lot lately, I added shredded chicken (shrimp would also be a great option) and noodles for added energy. I prepared all the ingredients ahead of time, stashed them in the refrigerator to stay cool and fresh and pulled them all out when it came time for dinner. I recommend preparing and chopping extra to have enough for two or even three nights in a row.
Yep, you guessed it, this will be our dinner again tonight (seriously, it is THAT good!).
Before you rush to the store and get started making your very own bowl of fresh, healthy goodness, please please PLEASE do NOT skimp on the fresh herbs. The herbs (mint, cilantro, chives) and green onions are essential to the kick butt flavor of this noodle bowl. I've made bowls like this with and without the mint, and the noodles with the mint? Well, about a bazillion times better. And this homemade sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce on top (or your favorite store bought version) seriously seals the deal on this summer salad.
I mean, just look at it...
Cold Noodle Salad with Chicken and Sesame Dressing
Prep Time: 20-25 minutes / Cook Time: 25-30 minutes / Total Time: 45-55 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 package rice noodles (approx. 14 ounces)
1 large seedless cucumber, julienned
4 large carrots, julienned
2 cups bean sprouts
4 green onions, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 small bunch mint, finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
Garnish with Homemade Sweet and Spicy Thai Chili Sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sesame oil
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
2/3 cup rice vinegar
6 tablespoons soy sauce (plus more to taste)
1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
2 teaspoon Sriracha
salt, to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Carefully add chicken to the water. Turn off heat, and cover with a tight fitting lid. Allow chicken to cook for 30 minutes. When 30 minutes has passed, remove chicken from water and allow it to cool on a plate before shredding with a fork (or your fingers).
While chicken is cooking, prepare rice noodles according to package instructions. Check noodles frequently, as you do not want them to be overcooked. Cooked, yet still firm, is the goal.
Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables- carrots, cucumber, green onion, cilantro, mint and chives. Place all the vegetables in a large salad bowl (or mixing bowl) and toss together. Check chicken and noodles.
Prepare the dressings- in a medium bowl whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing. Taste and make any additions you see necessary (sugar, soy sauce, sriracha). Set aside.
As soon as chicken has been shredded and noodles are prepared, toss everything together. Start by adding the chicken and dressing to the bowl of chopped vegetables. Toss to coat. Add the noodles last, gently tossing to coat.
Garnish with additional chopped green onion, cilantro, mint, fresh lime, sweet chili sauce and sesame seeds.
Recipe inspired by The Woks of Life