This kelp noodle salad with ginger peanut dressing is the perfect cold noodle dish for a hot summer night. Enjoy as a side or top with grilled salmon or tofu for a one bowl meal.
Today I bring to you a special post from my fabulous summer intern Sophia. Sophia is a future dietitian with a love for food and cooking, and I am so happy we got to work together this summer. Half Italian and half Canadian, Sophia spent much of her childhood and early teenage years in Switzerland, so she brings ton of inspiration and food knowledge to the kitchen. I love that she is not afraid to test out new ingredients and get totally creative — like with this dish. I know you’ll love this recipe she developed as much as I do.
Growing up Italian, pasta, bread, and all the carbs were a big part of my diet. And don’t get me wrong this girl LOVES her carbs (give me all the gluten). But some days, especially in the warmer months I crave something a little lighter. Something a little more vegetable forward. This, combined with a love of fresh, yet, bold flavors turned this Italian girl on to all things Asian cuisine.
On thing I love about Asian cuisine is that you can “mess up” and end up with something absolutely delicious. Sure, there are guiding principles of flavor development — just like with any cuisine — but you really don’t have to follow a strict recipe. As long as you have a good mix of colors and textures, along with a yummy sauce, you’re golden. This recipe is just that. It’s a little bit of this and that, and if you want to change up the ingredients, go for it!
How to customize this kelp noodle salad with ginger-peanut dressing
The dressing: don’t do peanut butter? Almond butter or tahini work well here, too!
Use different veggies: You want any veggies that add crunch. You can use green instead of red cabbage, add slice bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange) or even add some sliced raw snap peas.
The noodles: while kelp noodles are a fun, nutritious option (more on these below), this salad is also great with cooked then chilled soba noodles (just run under cold water after cooking), udon noodles, or even whole wheat spaghetti.
What are kelp noodles?
If you haven’t heard of kelp before, that’s ok! It’s actually very easy to use and brings a unique texture to this dish. With a neutral flavor, it takes on the flavors of whatever you pair it with (like the creamy dreamy ginger peanut dressing).
Kelp is a type of large brown seaweed that is typically found in nutrient-rich saltwater. Like other sea vegetables, kelp contains antioxidants including carotenoids, flavonoids, and alkaloids, all of which play a role in prevention of many chronic diseases. It also provides some vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc.
What kelp is most touted for, though, is that it’s a good source of iodine, which is incredibly important for thyroid function. As many of us move away from processed foods (fortified with iodine) and trade in table salt (also fortified) for fancier salts, we may be missing out on this important nutrient. Outside of the many health benefits, kelp noodles are gluten-free and low in carbohydrates, for those of you looking for that.
Where to buy kelp noodles
Kelp noodles can be found in the Asian section of some grocery stores like Whole Foods. But if you can’t find them in-store, order them on Amazon. And if you cant find them, feel free to substitute buckwheat soba noodles or whole what spaghetti.
How to prepare kelp noodles
Kelp noodles can either be eaten straight out of the package after rinsing them with cold water (if you’re craving some crunch), or soak them in hot water for 30 minutes. This softens them so you get more of an al dente pasta then super crunchy noodles.
How to serve this kelp noodle salad with ginger peanut dressing?
As a cold side dish: It’s perfect paired with anything on the grill or even a pan seared or roasted fish. Since it can be served cold or room temperature, it’s great for a summer barbecue or potluck as well.
Topped with grilled shrimp, salmon, chicken, or tofu steak: Top it with your favorite grilled protein.
Make it vegan: bake, grill, or fry tofu (I recommend this method from Pinch of Yum) and toss it in with the noddles and vegetables. You can also add edamame. Swap maple syrup for honey to make the dressing vegan.
Did you make this salad?
Leave a comment letting me know what you thought about it and rate it in the recipe card below! Save it to your Pinterest board so you can find it later, and don’t forget to share a picture of your creation on instagram and tag me (@sarahgoldnutrition). I love seeing what you’re up to!
- 12 ounces kelp noodles
- 2 large carrots, shredded (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 large cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced into small cubes
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or chopped mint or a mix of both
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts
- 1/4 cup Simply Organic Black Sesame Seed 3.28 oz.
- lime wedges (optional)
For the Sauce
- 5 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 ½ inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- Pinch of cayenne
- 1-2 Tbsp water as needed
- Boil water and cover kelp noodles with hot water until fully submerged for about 20-30 minutes until tender.
- After soaking kelp noodles, rinse with cold water to cool noodles down.
- Add carrots, cabbage, cucumber, cilantro/mint and green onions to a large bowl. Combine all sauce ingredients except water and whisk together until smooth. Add water as needed to thin to desired consistency.
- Drain kelp noodles, cut into smaller noodles and add to bowl.
- Toss salad with dressing and sprinkle sesame seeds and peanuts over top.
- Stores well in fridge for up to 5 days.
A note about kelp: Look for it in the Asian section of many common grocery stores. If you can’t find the noodles locally, order them on Amazon. My favorite brand is Sea Tangle, but any brand works. They can either be eaten straight out of the package after rinsing them with cold water (if you’re craving some crunch), or what I like to do is to soak them in a nice hot water bath for 30 minutes. This softens them so you get more of an al dente pasta then super crunchy noodles.