I really love our farmshare. I love how it has forced us to eat more vegetables and how it has introduced me not only to new vegetables but also to new dishes, recipes and types of foods I would not have made previously. I can’t remember a time when I have purposely purchased a head of cabbage from the grocery store, but I have eaten many heads of cabbage in the last few months because of our farmshare and enjoyed it. This recipe is adapted from one that came in a weekly recipe sets the farm sends with the vegetables. It has become a favorite for us – we’ve made it three times already. I love that the salad lends itself to creativity with the types of vegetables used, and the sauce recipe could be used any time you need a flavorful, thick Asian peanut sauce.
These photos are actually from September when we had a gigantic head of red cabbage and the other pictured extra vegetables I thought I’d just toss in (which were great, by the way). We ended up with way too much salad for the dressing. Not to mention that I had added diced roasted chicken, too (which I don’t recommend – it didn’t add much flavor and the texture was too stringy for me). If you end up with as much vegetable volume as I did in these photos, do yourself a favor and make one-and-a-half recipes of the sauce and then mix in however much you like. (You can use any extra sauce for dipping chicken or spring rolls or however else you would use a traditional Asian peanut sauce, or you can freeze it for later.) Yesterday we used a medium-sized green cabbage and just an onion, carrots and cilantro, and the ratio was just right.
Although the title of the recipe has the word “spicy” in it, this salad is not actually hot. Well, I suppose if you have some really potent crushed red pepper or if you add in some optional very hot peppers, then it could certainly get that way fast, but the sauce recipe as it is just has a tiny flavor of hotness to it and shouldn’t be too much even for those who are heat-averse. However, if you’re worried, just leave out the crushed red pepper and, obviously, don’t add any chopped fresh hot peppers.
As you can see, this recipe makes a huge salad. It would certainly be a great dish to take to a potluck, but the two adults and one three-year-old of our household did manage to eat the whole thing before it went bad. (And yes, the three-year-old loved it.) It keeps remarkably well in the refrigerator for about a week, and the flavors are really better after a few days of melding.
Cabbage and Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce
adapted from a recipe supplied by Pumpkin Ridge Gardens, original source unknown
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti noodles (I think this would also be fabulous with rice noodles, making it gluten-free so long as your soy sauce and sweet chili sauce are also gluten-free)
1 medium cabbage, thinly sliced, whatever variety you like or have – red, green or Napa are all good
1 onion, again of any variety, diced or thinly sliced
2-3 large carrots, thinly sliced or coarsely grated using a food processor or hand grater
Optional (but great) Additions: 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced; 2-3 cups snap peas, halved and ends trimmed; 1 cup chopped cilantro (not pictured); 1-2 hot peppers, finely diced; roasted, salted peanuts for garnish
1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/2 cup prepared sweet chili sauce (we like Trader Joe’s)
5 garlic cloves, minced
0-1 tsp salt
Note – if you are adding all the optional-but-great-additions above and/or have a huge head of cabbage, make one and a half or even two recipes of sauce to account for the added volume.
Cook the spaghetti in boiling water just until al dente, which is sometimes a couple of minutes less than the package directs. Drain and immediately rinse with cold water. Let drain in a colander to get rid of any excess liquid while you’re finishing chopping the vegetables and making the sauce.
For the sauce, place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until well blended. Taste, paying attention particularly to the saltiness, and adjust if needed. The amount of salt you need will depend mostly on your brand and type of soy sauce (i.e., low sodium vs. regular).
Combine the vegetables and cooked spaghetti noodles in a very large bowl and mix with a wooden spoon or possibly your hands. Add the sauce in portions and mix in until the ratio of salad to sauce is to your liking. Optionally garnish with peanuts, more chopped hot peppers and/or more chopped cilantro. Do NOT mix peanuts, if using, into the whole bowl of salad unless you’re serving it right away – they will lose their crunch and become mushy quickly.