Friday Food: Asian Summer Salad

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At the height of summer, turning on the stove or oven to cook dinner can be a huge drag. Cold salads and pasta dishes can be a great way to keep it cool. If you're tired of standard pasta salads, try this quick and easy noodle salad with an Asian twist for dinner.

Normally, I'm not a huge fan of cold food, especially for dinner, but this one will satisfy even the heartiest eater. It's a take on a dish that my mom used to make when I was a child. At the time it seemed revolutionary to combine peanut butter with anything other than jelly, but in this day and age of world cuisine, it's no longer anything new.

Most of this dish can be prepared well in advance and/or with pre-cut items from the store, so the only thing you'll need the stove for is to boil noodles. It's also a great potluck dish, and it can even be easily converted for vegetarians if you leave out the chicken and add more shredded veggies, such as carrots, zucchini and squash.

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Chicken Noodle Salad with Shredded Cabbage and Peanut Sauce
12 oz. noodles - any Asian noodle, thin spaghetti or vermicelli will work
3-4 c. shredded, cooked chicken
6 c. shredded cabbage
Peanut sauce (recipe below)

1. Cook noodles according to directions. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool.
2. In a large bowl, combine the noodles, chicken and cabbage. Add peanut sauce, a cup at a time, and toss until coated. You will have sauce left over. Alternately, you can also leave each item in a separate bowl and allow people to assemble the ingredients to their own liking.

Serves 6-8

Peanut Sauce
1 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. chopped scallions
1 Tbsp. chopped ginger
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic

1/4 c. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1/4 c. sesame oil
1/4-1/2 c. hot water
2 Tbsp. sugar (optional)

1. Combine all ingredients except for sesame oil and water in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. If you use unsweetened peanut butter, as I did, you may want to add the optional sugar to sweeten it up a bit.
2. With processor running, slowly drizzle in first the sesame oil, then the hot water until the sauce reaches desired consistency.
Makes approximately 3 cups

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