Satay noodles: An antidote to bland pasta salads
This explosion of tastes works well as part of a larger spread with barbecued meats
I’ve never warmed to pasta salad. Unless it’s orzo, at room temperature, with plenty of flat leaf parsley, a slick of grassy olive oil and crunchy sea salt. I could eat that all day. Large bowls of cold multicoloured pasta spirals seemed to grace every Communion buffet table of my childhood. Doused in French dressing, or worse still a sachet of powdered dressing that had been whisked with water before being folded into the huge mound of carbs.
It seemed a prerequisite that each house we’d visit would have a fridge-cold pasta mountain that needed to be conquered. Maybe it was because there were 10 in our family and having us over for lunch could blow the weekly grocery budget.
Filling, thrifty dishes were all the rage in the late 1980s. Curried rice or couscous salad was another that made me shudder. Spiked with bloated raisins among a sea of cold, turmeric tinged grains. A handful of fresh coriander and some flaked toasted almonds would have really boosted it.
I once went to a Nigerian christening party and there were similar looking huge bowls of rice, but some were flavoured with tomatoes and others with ground chicken liver. They tasted amazing thanks to thoughtful seasoning.
I’m all for a carbohydrate-based cold salad when it’s done right. It makes total sense to have an easy to make, prepare ahead dish that will keep the troops full. But pasta, rice and so on need to be generously seasoned and then loaded with freshness. More herbs than you can imagine, pops of pomegranate, toasted crunchy seeds, tiny cubes of crunchy vegetables or ribbons of roasted peppers are all good additions.
Maybe my own children will feel the same about tabbouleh, my summer barbecue salad of choice. Although with tabbouleh the grains of bulgar are quite secondary to all of the parsley. It’s more of a parsley salad flecked with bulgar wheat.
The simple satay sauce in my carb salad this week is a staple in my house and quite handy to have in the fridge, for leftover roast chicken, or for dipping crunchy raw vegetables into. Over the summer months, when we have get togethers and picnics I love to bring tubs of this salad with us.
I usually add grated raw carrot and radish for my kids as it clings to the saucy noodles. A few thick slices of cucumber add texture, along with a handful of roasted peanuts or toasted sesame seeds. I serve it with a generous drizzle of sriracha or kimchi. It’s an explosion of tastes and textures that tastes great on its own or as part of a larger spread with barbecued meats or salads.
SATAY NOODLE SALAD
Serves four to six
3 tbsp smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
½ tsp brown sugar
2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
300g egg noodles
1 carrot, peeled and roughly grated
½ red pepper, finely diced
2 tbsp nigella seeds or toasted sesame seeds
1 Cook the noodles according to packet instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside. Blitz the peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, sugar, coriander, garlic and ginger with two to three tablespoons of cold water until smooth and creamy.
2 Fold the grated vegetables through the noodles along with the dressing and mix until all of the noodles are coated. Serve sprinkled with nigella seeds, or sesame seeds, and some extra coriander.