“I dream about your Asian noodle salad. Will you please share the recipe?” wrote Maayan, my cousin Rafi’s wife.
I have lots of first cousins. Some live in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and Modi’in, like Rafi and Maayan; some in Sydney and Melbourne; and others in New York. Whenever any of them pass through Los Angeles, it is the greatest honor to set up long tables in my backyard and host a festive Shabbat lunch. With three generations gathered, there’s a lot of joking and talking politics, singing and reminiscing.
Although browned eggs, roasted eggplant and Israeli salad are de rigueur, I love to be creative with the other salads I serve. One of the simplest recipes, Asian noodle salad, has proven to be one of the most popular with adults and children. My guests remember it and always request it whenever they’re invited back for a meal.
The secret to a delicious salad lies in a killer dressing: My Asian dressing hits all the right sweet and sour and acidic notes. I always keep a huge jar of it in my fridge because it works on Chinese coleslaw, Chinese chicken salad and even mixed-greens salads. I very rarely use store-bought salad dressing. Mixing healthy oils, good quality vinegar, organic honey and some spices is much more appealing to me than the high-fructose corn syrup and soybean oil featured in many bottled dressings. Preparing jars of different dressings ahead of time is a huge investment. If you’re not serving the salad to young children, you can up the heat factor by adding Sriracha or spicy chili sauce or a sprinkle of red chili flakes.
The secret to flavorful noodles is adding the dressing to the noodles immediately after cooking. Roasted broccolini, green scallions and sugar snap peas, shredded carrots and purple cabbage, black and white sesame seeds and crushed peanuts add crunch and flavor, and the colors are truly striking. Pure comfort food that’s perfect for a hot summer day.
Thanks to Maayan for paying me the huge compliment of asking me for my recipe, which forced me to write it down.
ASIAN NOODLE SALAD
1 cup avocado or safflower or expeller pressed canola oil
1/2 cup toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup organic honey
1 tablespoon ginger powder
1 tablespoon granulated garlic powder
Optional: 1 teaspoon sriracha, spicy chili sauce or red chili flakes
2 cups broccolini or broccoli, cut into narrow florets
2 pounds thin spaghetti or angel-hair pasta
2 cups sugar snap peas, cut into diagonal strips
2 cups purple cabbage, shredded
2 cups carrots, julienned
4 green scallions, diced
1 cup peanuts, crushed
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
3 tablespoons oil for roasting
For the dressing: Combine all ingredients and chill.
For the salad: Preheat oven to 400 F.
Place broccolini on oiled baking sheet and cook 10-15 minutes. Set aside.
Boil pasta according to package directions.
Drain, then pour 1 cup dressing onto warm pasta and toss well until all pasta is coated in dressing.
Chill in refrigerator.
Place pasta in serving bowl, then place vegetables, nuts and seeds on top.
Just before serving, pour 1/2 cup dressing over vegetables.