Soba Noodle Salad with Tahini Ginger Dressing
on Jul 24, 2023
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Tossed in a creamy tahini ginger dressing, this easy soba noodle salad has red cabbage, carrots and bell peppers. The noodles cook in 5 minutes or less, and you can buy shredded cabbage and carrots to save prep time. This is a great choice for a vegan lunch salad or dinner salad.
If you’re looking for a warm soba noodle dish, try these Soba Noodles with Mushrooms and Bok Choy.
Table of Contents
Why You Need This Recipe
It is a quick & easy noodle salad with plenty of veggies. You really don’t need much more than that for a nutritious meal. Also, you can take advantage of packaged precut vegetables to reduce the amount of work you have to do, which is already pretty minimal to begin with for this simple recipe.
Depending on your preference, you can adjust the amount of noodles and vegetables. You can make tweaks to the balance of noodles and vegetables in the recipe. I know sometimes with a noodle salad or a pasta salad, I like to throw in more veggies. These kinds of salads are also an easy way to use other vegetables and leftovers in your kitchen that you might not know what to do with.
You will fall in love with the tahini ginger dressing. This is a creamy vegan salad dressing. Tahini is the key ingredient to give it that silky consistency and sesame flavor. It’s also aromatic with minced garlic and fresh ginger. This dressing delivers on taste and brings all the ingredients together.
What are Soba Noodles?
Made from buckwheat flour, these Japanese noodles are thin and long. They are gluten-free, but make sure to read the ingredient list on the package to see if there’s a blend of flours if you are sensitive to gluten. These buckwheat noodles have a nice nutty flavor.
Soba noodles cook quickly, usually 3-5 minutes. Always read the recommended cook time on the package. They should be soft, but not overcooked. You don’t want them to be al dente like you would with pasta. While the noodles are simmering, I like to stir the water periodically to make sure they don’t stick together.
This is what you need:
- Soba noodles: You can usually find soba noodles in the Asian section in the ethnic food aisle at the grocery. Udon noodles, rice noodles or even whole-wheat spaghetti are good substitutes.
- Cabbage: With its purple leaves, red cabbage is crunchy especially when it’s sliced into shreds. You can buy it already shredded or cut the cabbage yourself.
- Carrots: I prefer buying shredded carrots, but you can use the grater disc on your food processor or the big holes of a box grater to do it yourself.
- Red bell pepper: I slice a red bell pepper lengthwise into thin strips. Again, it goes with the theme of the veggies in this dish—fresh and crunchy.
- Scallions, also known as green onions, have a mild onion flavor that goes with well with the rest of the ingredients.
- Cilantro is my first choice when it comes to fresh herbs for this cold noodle salad. If you’re not a cilantro person, I recommend adding another scallion and go all in on the oniony flavor instead.
- Sesame seeds are a nutty finishing touch that make sense with the tahini.
- Tahini ginger dressing: I love this creamy vegan dressing. Besides tahini, it has fresh ginger, minced garlic, fresh lime juice, soy sauce, salt and pepper. When you first taste it, you might think it’s a bit strong, but you need all that flavor to give the noodles personality. You can swap out the soy sauce and use tamari or coconut aminos instead.
Variation: Peanut Dressing
If you don’t have tahini, you can substitute with natural peanut butter. It helps if it is on the runnier side. Then you can mix the ingredients together to make a peanut dressing. I would also use chopped peanuts instead of sesame seeds.
How To Make This Cold Soba Noodle Salad
1. Make the dressing. Whisk together the ginger, garlic, tahini, lime juice, soy sauce, salt and pepper. They should be fully combined into a creamy dressing that’s thick, but still very pourable, so then it will easily coat the noodles.
2. Cook the soba noodles. The water should be at a full rolling boil. You don’t need to salt the water like you would with pasta. Follow the cook time on the package. Then use tongs to transfer the noodles to a big bowl of cold water to shock them. After that, drain the noodles. Putting them in ice cold water rinses off the excess starch, so they don’t become gummy.
3. Stir the dressing with the noodles. Do this in a bowl that is large enough to hold the rest of the ingredients too.
4. Add the cabbage, carrots, red peppers, scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Then toss everything together. I like using a fork and a spoon to do this to get the cabbage, carrots and peppers mixed into the soba noodles. Sometimes I will use my hands even though it’s a bit messy because it gets the job done.
These noodles are great for lunch or dinner as a main dish. If you have roasted or grilled chicken, baked tofu, or another protein, you can also stir that into the noodles. You can make this Asian Cucumber Salad or Sautéed Snap Peas to go with it, or serve it with steamed edamame on the side.
Leftovers & Storage
You can keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days. The cabbage, carrots and peppers will lose some of their crisp texture the longer you store them. Even though this salad is meant to be enjoyed cold, I do like to take it out of the fridge about 10 minutes before I plan to eat it to lose some of that intense fridge chill.
Stir the dressing into the noodles before you add the rest of the salad ingredients. This tahini dressing is thicker than a vinaigrette. You want to mix it with the noodles first. Then when you add the cabbage, carrots and peppers, they will end up lightly dressed.
You can make the dressing up to 2 days in advance. Store it in a jar in the fridge. Let it sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes before you stir it into the noodles. This will make it a more pourable consistency.
More Noodle Recipes
Soba Noodle Salad with Tahini Ginger Dressing
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 6 ounces soba noodles
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 4 scallions thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro plus more for serving
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds plus more for serving
- To make the dressing, whisk the ginger, garlic, tahini, lime juice, soy sauce, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
- Cook the soba noodles according to package instructions in a large pot of boiling water. Use tongs to transfer the cooked noodles to a bowl of cold water to stop them from cooking. Then drain them.
- In a large bowl, stir the noodles with the dressing.
- Fold in the cabbage, carrots, red peppers, scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds.
- Spoon into a serving dish or divide into smaller bowls and top with additional sesame seeds and cilantro as desired.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.