Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad

February 20, 2014

Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad

Maybe you’ve noticed more vegetables around these parts than before? As I click back through the last half dozen recipes, I see a lot of green. It doesn’t surprise me but maybe you’ve wondered where all the cheese and cake has gone? I haven’t eaten any meat or dairy for going on nine months now so there’s your answer.

Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad

Eating a plant-based diet has done absolute wonders for me but I’ve been hesitant to delve into the whys and hows here. Food choices are rarely simple. Health, personal beliefs, ethical principles, tastes, and upbringing all play a part. For this reason I’ve shied away from talking about my own food revolution and from labelling myself in any way, which I think oversimplifies a complex personal choice. There’s so much evangelising about food out there in internet land and I don’t have much interest in throwing my hat in that ring. I’d rather focus on sharing the dishes and foods I’m excited about, like this killer salad.

Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad

Having decided not to eat meat or dairy it would be easy to focus on what I am not eating and to feel all womp-womp about missed cheese burgers and the lack of steak. But I decided from the start that I would instead concentrate on all the goodness I am adding and how flipping awesome it’s making me feel. And really, it was not anywhere near as hard as I imagined. The health issues I was dealing with for years have disappeared as a result of eating this way. If anything, I’ve become more creative in the kitchen, and incase these pictures don’t shout OMG DELISH to you, let me tell you that it’s mega satisfying to eat food like this, full of crunchy green vegetables, fragrant herbs, chewy noodles, and zingy dressing.

I’ve made this salad several times now. It hits the spot when you’re hungry for something a bit more substantial than a raw salad but still want to see a rainbow of goodness on your plate. And like all good salads, the dressing really makes it. It has a moreish saltiness and zing that makes it hard not to wolf down the entire thing in one sitting. You have been warned.

Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad
adapted from River Cottage Veg

You might also use vermicelli rice noodles but I personally love the relative chunkiness of soba. Other crunchy green vegetables can replace the snow peas, and if you use Tamari and 100% buckwheat noodles then this dish is gluten-free as well as vegan.


  • 75g (1/2 cup) raw unsalted peanuts
  • 200g (7oz) buckwheat soba noodles
  • 150g (5oz) snow peas
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 6 green onions
  • a small bunch mint, coarsely chopped
  • a small bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), coarsely chopped

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
  • Grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
  • 1 small fresh red chile, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce or Tamari, plus extra to serve


  1. Toast the peanuts in a dry pan until a little dark and fragrant. Remove and coarsely chop. Set aside.
  2. Cook noodles per package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain again and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Combine all dressing ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Toss the cooked, cooled noodles with the dressing and leave to sit while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  4. Add the snow peas to rapidly boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop them cooking longer. Drain again and then cut in half on the diagonal.
  5. Thinly slice the green onions on the diagonal. Slice the cucumber in half lengthways and then slice into half moons.
  6. Add the snow peas, cucumber, green onions, and chopped herbs to the bowl with the dressed noodles. Scatter the roasted peanuts on top.
  7. Serve with soy sauce or Tamari at the table for people to add to their bowls. An extra drizzle when serving really makes this salad sing. Enjoy!


I’m totally a New Years resolution person. I love a fresh slate and a clean start, and boy do I love a list. Resolutions couldn’t have been further from my mind this year though. There has been enough “fresh start” in the past four months to last me a while I think. As much as I planned for this move, of course I couldn’t really anticipate what it would be like.

I didn’t foresee getting incredibly ill for several weeks when I first arrived back in England and I definitely didn’t anticipate that it would take four months to be reunited with my husband while we applied for his visa. When you take a huge leap like this, leaving a country, city, job, and much loved people, turns out life is not super predictable. Control is not yours for the taking so you may as well stop trying.

Roasted Parsnip and Green Lentil Salad

One of the things that helped to keep me sane amid the constant uncertainty was cooking and eating well. Having eaten out for the entire first two months of living here I was beyond ready for some home cooked fare when I moved into our flat.

I’ve fallen for lentils in a big way this winter. From hearty soups, to lunchtime salads, and simple dal, lentils have been playing a big role in my cooking. They’re packed full of protein and rich in iron, vitamin B6, and magnesium, making them a wonderful staple to include in your diet and they’re endlessly adaptable.

Roasted Parsnip and Green Lentil and Cress Salad

This is a perfect rainy day lunch for winter. Parsnips become sweet and caramelise slightly when roasted, playing off against the other ingredients in this salad beautifully. Lamb’s lettuce has a distinctive, tangy flavour which I think works really well with the sweeter elements and of course they add a lovely colour contrast too. The dressing really pulls it all together – it’s a classic combination of tart lemon, garlic, and hot mustard, all mellowed out by sweet honey.

Roasted Parsnip and Green Lentil Salad
adapted from River Cottage Veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Note: the onion, parsley stems, and bay leaves aren’t essential in the cooking water, but they will add a lovely extra flavour so don’t skimp if you have them.


  • 5 medium parsnips
  • 2 tablespoons organic rapeseed or canola oil
  • coarse sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2/3 cup / 125g green lentils (known as Puy lentils in the UK)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 an onion
  • A small handful of parsley stems
  • 2 large handfuls of lamb’s lettuce

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup / 60ml organic rapeseed or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (from about 1 medium sized lemon)
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp stone ground/ Dijon mustard (I think any mustard would work just fine)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed with some coarse sea salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F. Peel the parsnips and cut them in half crosswise. You’l want to cut the wide tops in half again so that ultimately you end up with similar sized chunky pieces. Put the parsnips in a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper, then toss with the oil. Roast, turning once, for about 40 minutes, until they’re tender and crispy at the edges.
  2. While the parsnips are roasting, begin the lentils. Put them in a saucepan and cover them with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for just a minute before taking them off the heat and draining them. Return to the pan with the onion, bay leaves, and parsley stems and add just enough water to cover them. Simmer very gently for about half an hour, until tender but not mushy.
  3. To make the dressing, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, honey, mustard, and garlic in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Drain the lentils and remove the onion, bay leaves, and parsley stems. Toss the lentils with the dressing while still warm to coat.
  5. Arrange the lentils on plates with the lamb’s lettuce and parsnip chunks, tossing gently to combine. Serves four as a side dish or two for lunch with some crusty bread.

This is a really great warm weather salad that’s fresh, filling, and packed with flavour. There’s a little Vietnamese place Dan and I like to go to in Minneapolis called Jasmine Deli which serves amazing phở, great bánh mì, as well as really excellent bún chay – a salad made with tofu or meat, rice noodles (usually vermicelli), lettuce, various crunchy raw vegetables, fresh herbs, and a moreishly flavourful sauce.

We decided to recreate the salad at home and it’s set to be a summer favourite. You could make it with chicken, pork, or beef instead of the grilled tofu that we made. In terms of veggies, we went with carrots, cucumber, and daikon radish, but bean sprouts are a common addition too and bell pepper would add a similar textural crunch. The sauce is wonderfully salty and full of flavour from the fish sauce and lime juice, but feel free to play with the ingredients there as well.

Bún Chay (Vietnamese Noodle Salad)


For the marinade

  • 1/2 stalk lemongrass, bulbous portion only, finely chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp chicken bouillon
  • 1 dried red chili, minced
  • splash of water

For the salad

  • 7 ounces/ 200g dried vermicelli noodles
  • 1/2 pound extra firm tofu (or substitute chicken, pork, or beef)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 a head of romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1/2 cup daikon radish, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup julienned cucumber
  • 2 carrots, julienned
  • Large handful of fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 2 tbsp peanuts, chopped (to garnish)

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed


  1. Press tofu between paper towels to drain excess water. Cut into 1-inch chunks.
  2. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Place tofu in marinade and let sit for half an hour.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare noodles according to package instructions, cooking until white and tender but still firm. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water, fluffing the noodles to separate the strands. Drain again completely. Set aside.
  4. Heat bbq and grill tofu until crispy and golden. Flip and cook the other side. (Alternatively, you could stir fry the tofu in a wok over high heat.)
  5. Shred lettuce set aside with cucumbers, carrots, and sliced daikon radish.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for sauce. Set aside.
  7. Divide the noodles between two bowls. Arrange greens and tofu on top and garnish with peanuts. Just before eating, drizzle with sauce to taste and toss.