Pasta & Rice Dishes / Small Plates / Vegetarian / Weeknight Dinner

Quick & Easy Skinny Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce

I had work tonight, and I was planning on meeting a friend after, which meant I wouldn’t have time to fix dinner in between. So, rather than waiting until around 8 to eat dinner, I figured I should probably bring something portable to take before hanging out with my friend. I was planning on taking soup, until about 30 minutes before I had to leave and I remembered I’d have no way to heat it up before eating it.

So, soup was out. I’m trying to spend less money and eat healthier, so I really wasn’t keen on the idea of grabbing something somewhere…I knew my options would be pizza, Starbucks, or Mexican food, and money-issues aside, none of those sounded particularly great.

With about half an hour before I had to head out the door, I had to think fast…what could I take that would taste good cold? (I have an ice pack for my lunch tupperware, so keeping food cold isn’t an issue). I have a few packages of tofu shirataki noodles left in my fridge, so I decided to put together a quick cold noodle salad of sorts.

For those of you that haven’t heard of shirataki noodles, they’re often advertised as the “miracle noodle” because of their low calorie content; the original kind, which are much harder to find, are made of Japanese yam and have almost zero calories per serving; the tofu variety, which you can find at most grocery stores depending where you live, has about 20 calories per serving. They’re a great substitute for traditional pasta if you’re watching carbs and calories. Because of their low calorie count, you can use heartier sauces and toppings without feeling quite as guilty. Like spaghetti squash, they definitely aren’t as great as plain old noodles, but if you know how to prepare them, they’re not half bad. (The texture does take some getting used to, though).

Some people recommend preparing the noodles with a microwave, but I’ve found that the best way to prepare them is the dry-fry method. All you have to do is remove the noodles from the pouch and rinse them with hot water (this helps the slightly fishy odor go away). Strain them, then pat them with a paper towel to remove some of the moisture. Then, place them in a hot pan (no oil added, just the noodles) and cook them for a few minutes. Pat them dry again, to make sure you’ve gotten out as much moisture as possible. After that, you can add them to whatever dish you’re preparing, whether it’s a cheesy Italian-flavored pasta dinner or a cold noodle salad with Asian flavors.

Anyways, for my dinner tonight, I prepared the noodles using the dry-fry technique, then whipped up a super simple peanut sauce. There are a lot of different ways to make a peanut sauce; the one I made tonight was almost like a dressing, but if I’m making a hot dish I often make a thicker variation. By using Better’n Peanut Butter and Liquid Aminos instead of soy sauce, I saved a few calories; I also didn’t add any oil. To add to the sauce and noodles, I steamed some frozen broccoli I had and chopped up some of the shredded carrots I had in my fridge. Really, you could add lots of veggies to this salad; bell pepper would be great, or possibly some edamame. I just worked with what I had on hand, and what I could have ready in a short period of time.

If I weren’t making it to-go, I would have added a few pieces of shrimp for some protein; due to time, I sprinkled on some chopped peanuts instead, which gave it a nice crunch.

I didn’t think to take a picture until I took out my food to eat in my car, so please excuse how unappetizing it looks. I promise it looks better in person, my car was dark and those peanuts look far too much like corn…

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This dish is pretty easy, and if you let it sit in the fridge for a few hours, the flavors get absorbed by the noodles a bit more. If you’re making it for an entree, add shrimp or tofu (or chicken).

I tend to overlook cold noodle dishes, but this worked perfectly for a quick meal for on the go. To complete it, I threw in some applesauce, dried apricot pieces, and a mini bag of pistachios. Not the most gourmet or cohesive meal I’ve made, but it worked, and kept me full until I got home later and could grab a small snack.

Skinny Cold Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce (serves 1)

Angel Hair tofu shirataki 4 oz (you can use spaghetti ones, but I think the angel hair kind tastes better cold)
1/2 tbsp better’n peanut butter
1 tsp liquid amino acids
about 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
sugar, if needed
dash of cayenne
dash of ground ginger (or freshly grated)
squeeze of lime juice
Sriracha (to taste)
1/2 cup frozen chopped broccoli
about 1/4 cup shredded carrots, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped peanuts (optional)
optional additional toppings: 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup edamame

1. Prepare your noodles; pat dry and set aside in a bowl (or whatever you plan on eating out of). Steam broccoli following instructions on package; drain and add to noodles.

2. In a mug or small bowl, add rice vinegar, liquid aminos, worcestershire sauce, cayenne, lime juice, and peanut butter. Whisk together until well combined and chunks of peanut butter are gone. Taste and add sugar (or sugar substitute) if needed; I added a tiny bit of Truvia to mine. Add desired amount of Sriracha, to taste. Whisk to combine.

3. Add carrots and peanut sauce to noodle bowl and mix until well combined. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour. (I stuck mine in my tupperware with an ice pack attached)

4. Top with chopped peanuts or protein of choice before serving.

(Nutritional information depends on the ingredients you use; my noodle salad was about 125 calories)

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