I’m working on a TDF patio/pool-friendly cocktail to share with you soon and all I can think about when…thinking about it…is how perfectly it would pair with a plate of sizzling grilled chicken, serving bowl of Sesame Noodle Salad, and enormous slice of gluten free angel food cake with tons of cold whipped cream and berries.
Add in a warm evening plus a good book and I think I just came up with The Perfect Day?!
Big dreams aside, I can’t wait for you to try this cold sesame noodle salad that’s dressed with an intensely flavored sesame dressing with the perfect balance of salty, tangy, and sweet, and is full of healthy, crunchy, vegetables and herbs.
It’s the perfect healthy side dish to pair with pretty much any dinner, and is especially refreshing as we head into the warm weather months (FINALLY, amiright?!)
Sesame Noodle Salad
Y’all know my complete devotion to The Best Pasta Salad — I literally have 4 jars of the secret-weapon seasoning in my freezer as we speak — but a cold sesame noodle salad, packed with the flavors of toasted sesame, soy, ginger, and garlic hits different.
As I mentioned, this cold pasta salad would pair perfectly with grilled chicken, shrimp, or even roasted tofu. The depth of flavor makes it such a fun and truly delicious spin on pasta salad!
For the Salad:
- Angel hair pasta: For cold gluten free pasta salads, I love using brown rice pasta because it doesn’t get as hard as a corn/rice blend gluten free pasta in the fridge. I’ll share my favorite brand below. If you don’t need to eat gluten free, regular angel hair pasta is fine to use.
- Snap peas: I like the crunch that snap peas add to the sesame noodle salad. Slice on the diagonal for a pretty presentation.
- Shelled edamame: quickly thaw frozen shelled edamame in a bowl of warm water then drain and add to the cold noodle salad. I love the creamy texture they add, and the protein, too.
- Shredded carrots: we always keep a bag of shredded carrots on hand for tossing into salads, soups, and stir fries — so convenient.
- Red pepper: julienned red pepper adds beautiful crunch and color to the sesame noodles.
- Cucumber: julienne either 1/4 of an english cucumber or a mini cucumber to add refreshing flavor and crunch.
- Cilantro: be sure to rinse your fresh cilantro before chopping — it’s notorious for holding onto dirt.
- Green onions: provide zingy flavor and crunch.
For the Sesame Dressing:
- Gluten free tamari: I use reduced-sodium gluten free tamari because that’s what I keep on hand in the pantry. If you don’t need to eat gluten free, traditional soy sauce is fine.
- Toasted sesame oil: infuses the noodles with that signature, roasty-toasty sesame flavor. SO GOOD!
- Rice vinegar + lime juice: cuts through the richness of the sesame oil.
- Brown sugar: helps balance the savory and tangy flavors of the sesame dressing.
- Sesame seeds: provide pops of texture and sesame flavor.
- Ginger paste: I LOVE a solid Tablespoon of grated ginger in the sesame dressing. Gourmet Gardens brand of ginger paste is my go-to.
- Garlic: raw garlic is so delicious mixed into this dressing. You can really taste it in the final cold sesame noodles.
- Red chili pepper flakes: this is optional, but I do like a tiny bit of heat in the dressing. Alternatively you could add a dollop of chili garlic crunch if you have that on hand.
Gluten Free Cold Pasta Salad Tips
If you’ve never made a cold, gluten free pasta salad, there’s a little more thought that needs to go into it compared to a regular pasta salad made with wheat-based noodles. Here are my best tips for success:
- Use brown rice noodles. In my experience, brown rice noodles stay softer and don’t fall apart after cooking and being chilled in the refrigerator like corn/rice-blend gluten free noodles tend to do. I like Jovial brand brown rice noodles.
- Serve right away. Even cooked brown rice noodles will become somewhat firm after chilling in the refrigerator so, for the best possible texture, serve the pasta salad right after assembling. If you have to refrigerate it, I don’t recommend chilling for more than 2 hours.
- Reserve some dressing. Similar to regular pasta salad, it’s helpful to save some of the dressing to drizzle over the chilled pasta salad if you don’t plan on serving it right away, as the cooked pasta can soak up some of the dressing as it sits in the fridge.
Alrighty – let us go forth, and dive into this bowl of deliciousness!
How to Make Sesame Noodle Salad
Start by boiling a 12oz package of angel hair pasta in a large pot of water until al dente. Drain then run under cold water until chilled.
Like I said, I choose brown rice pasta for cold gluten-free pasta salads, since it tends to stay softer in the fridge vs corn/rice blend gluten free pasta. I love this Jovial Gluten Free Capellini!
While the noodles boil, whisk up the sesame dressing in a mixing bowl or glass measuring cup. This dressing is PACKED with concentrated flavor. What’s inside:
- Gluten free tamari
- Toasted sesame oil
- Brown sugar
- Rice vinegar
- Lime juice
- Sesame seeds
- Ginger paste
- Red pepper flakes OR chili garlic crunch
Add the cold, drained noodles to a large mixing bowl then drizzle half of the sesame dressing on top and toss with tongs to combine.
Let the noodles sit for 5 minutes so they begin to become infused with the dressing.
Meanwhile, slice and dice all the veggies and herbs that provide lots of fresh flavor and crunch to the cold sesame noodles. We’ve got:
- Snap peas
- Shelled edamame
- Shredded carrots
- Red bell peppers
- Green onions / scallion
The last step is to drizzle on the remaining sesame dressing then toss with tongs to combine. Serve right away, or pop back in the fridge for an hour or two max before serving, to ensure the noodle texture stays nice and tender.
MMMM – I’m thinking about my last forkful of this cold sesame noodles recipe you guys!! Fresh, flavorful, crunchy, chewy — ALL OF THE THINGS — I hope you give it a try for your next grill out, or pair it with your main dish at dinner tonight! Enjoy!
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Sesame Noodle Salad
Sesame Noodle Salad is fresh, light, and packed with fresh vegetables. Serve as a tasty side dish with dinner, or enjoy these cold sesame noodles on their own!
- 12oz gluten free angel hair pasta (I like Jovial Capellini)
- 1/2 cup snap peas, sliced on the diagonal
- 1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed in a bowl of warm water
- 1/2 cup shredded carrots
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 red pepper, seeded then julienned
- 1/4 english cucumber or 1 mini cucumber, julienned
- 2 green onions, chopped
- For the Sesame Dressing:
- 1/4 cup gluten free Tamari or soy sauce (dish won’t be GF if using traditional soy sauce)
- 3 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- 1 Tablespoon ginger paste (I like Gourmet Garden)
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, optional
- For the Sesame Dressing: add ingredients to a small mixing bowl then whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil then season with 1 Tablespoon salt. Add pasta then cook according to package directions. Drain then rinse under cold running water until pasta is cool. Drain very well then add to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle half the dressing over the top then toss with tongs to combine and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients and sesame dressing to the mixing bowl then toss well with tongs to combine. Serve immediately.
- I prefer brown rice noodles when making a cold, gluten free pasta salad, and highly recommend Jovial Brown Rice Capellini (angel hair) for this recipe.
- This recipe is great with a dollop of Chili Crunch added to the dressing!
- As with most pasta salads made with gluten free noodles, this dish is best served right after making.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Photos by Ashley McLaughlin