Since the dinner menu for the Fairies in the Forest Twilight Soiree was planned as a cold-buffet, I naturally thought of doing some kind of pasta salad. I definitely wanted to stay away from the tried-and-true “bowtie and vegies” BBQ fare of the height of the summer season. Still, it did need to be colorful and substantial enough to serve as a second entree salad to help round out the menu choices.
So what to choose? Chicken was the obvious choice of protein, as I had already put my Mexicali Steak Salad Platter on the menu. Since I had jumped onto the ethnic food bandwagon, I decided I’d go Asian and my pasta would be buckwheat soba noodles. I love the earthy flavor and chewy texture of buckwheat!
This salad recipe is really another loosely held-together concept, allowing for you to customize it with your favorites and leaving out what’s not. Whatever mix of ingredients you choose, plan to have a nice combination of colors in the salad to help elevate the sad shade of, actually I’m at a loss as to what to call the color of a cooked buckwheat soba noodle. I guess I’ll be kind and say its “mushroom white”. Sorry, that’s the best I can do!
When I plan a theme party, I try to give myself a few shortcuts to ensure that I’m not running around like a chicken-with-my-head-cut-off on the day of the event. To that end, I decided to use one of my favorite store-bought sesame-ginger dressings on this salad to keep the prep super simple and the assembly fast.
Most of the salad’s ingredients can be prepped the day before you’re serving it, but you’ll want to cook the noodles and assemble the salad the day it will be eaten.
My tip for an extra tasty pasta salad is to lightly dress the pasta/noodles while they are still very warm. Warm noodles are able to absorb the dressing much better than cold ones. After you drain the pasta, put it into a large bowl and let cool for 2-3 minutes. Then pour in some of your dressing and toss lightly using a pair of tongs. Aim to only lightly coat the noodles, as you’ll be adding more dressing when you assemble the salad. Cool the noodles and let them chill completely before assembling and dressing the salad.
Aim to assemble, dress and chill the salad at least 2-3 hours prior to serving so all the flavors have some time to meld into a sesame, gingery loveliness.
I hope you try this quick and easy salad for your next cold dinner, and the added benefit is the leftovers are great to pack for lunch the next day!
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- 12 oz. Japanese soba buckwheat noodles
- 2 cups cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded
- 1/2 each, yellow and orange bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained
- 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
- 2/3 cup snow peas
- 1/3 cup crunchy sprouts (see notes)
- 1 cup shelled edaname
- 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger root
- Asian salad dressing of your choice
- Toasted sesame seeds, optional
- Dried seaweed sheets, optional
- In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook soba noodles until al dente, or slightly under cooked. This happens very quickly, so watch the pot carefully with your spider or large slotted spoon at the ready.
- Just as the noodles become al dente, start scooping them out of the simmering water with a slotted spoon or spider and place into a large bowl. (keep the water simmering)
- Let the noodles cool for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing to the bowl and toss gently with a pair of tongs to coat all the noodles. Cool and then refrigerate soba noodles.
- With the pot of salted water still simmering, drop in your snow peas to blanch for 30 seconds. Drain water and immediately plunge the snow peas into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. You still want some crunch!
- Cut the cooled snow peas in half on the bias. (see notes)
- Place all the prepared vegetables, chicken and ginger in a large bowl and toss well to combine.
- Combine noodles and vegetable/chicken mixture in one large bowl, add dressing, tossing to coat all the ingredients.
- Chill for at least 2-3 hours prior to serving.
- Optional garnishes include toasted sesame seeds and/or dried seaweed sheets cut into triangles.
If you'd like to see how to cut vegetables on the bias, I've got some tips under the Foodietown tab in the home page menu bar. I wouldn't leave you hanging!
I also have a whole post on how to grow your own sprouts over in the Foodietown section too! Now we're cookin'!