All week we’re celebrating the release of my new cookbook, Make It Easy: 120 Mix-and-Match Recipes to Cook From Scratch with Smart Store-Bought Shortcuts When You Need Them, and no recipe in the entire book typifies the Make It Easy approach more than this make-ahead dinner recipe for Cold Soba Noodle Salad. This easy dinner has so many virtues for busy home cooks, it’s hard to know where to start.

Giveaway is closed. We’ll announce a winner soon.

Okay, it’s not that hard: Let’s start with the fact that this is entirely make ahead. Since you serve this meal chilled or at room temperature, you can prep the entire thing days ahead of time, so that all you have to do the night-of is assemble in minutes.


The ultimate family-friendly make-ahead dinner recipe: Cold Soba Noodle Salad from Make It Easy cookbook | Cool Mom Eats

Soba noodles, a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour and now commonly available at most markets, cook up more quickly than traditional pasta and can be drained, rinsed, and tucked into tupperware up to 3 days before you eat them. Store them next to the simple vinaigrette, which I also make ahead for the whole week, since it can be used as a salad dressing on other nights.

The vegetables in this cold noodle salad are what I like to call lunch box veggies: raw red pepper, cucumber, and carrots. Most weeks, these veggies are already cut and waiting in my fridge for quick school lunch packing. Even if you don’t do that yourself, you can certainly cut these veggies up to 3 days ahead just for this meal—or, fine, cut them while the soba noodles cook. It takes 5 minutes.

Supermarket shortcut: Chopping can take even less time if you cheat with pre-shredded carrots, which I do.

But, wait, there’s more! If you don’t have time to prep this ahead, it still takes only 30 minutes or fewer. For real. And it’s an easy meatless meal that my kids love. If you’re not sure that yours will, too, keep this in mind: One of the most effective ways to nudge picky eaters towards new foods is to build on foods that already know, like, and trust.

Soba noodles are very similar to pasta in a way that might disarm your kids. And if they don’t like the flavors in this Ginger Lime Vinaigrette, use another vinaigrette that they love or make a basic version using our tutorial on how to make a vinaigrette dressing.

If nothing else, this recipe is worth a shot since it’s the perfect dish to get you through busy spring and summer nights when you’ll be outside until the very last minute before dinner. If your kids love it as much as mine do, it will become a weekly go-to, a potluck and picnic staple, and the healthy dish I can count on my kids eating—at least one night a week, in between all those cookout dogs and burgers.

Cold Soba Noodle Salad

From Make It Easy: 120 Mix-and-Match Recipes to Cook from Scratch With Store-Bought Shortcuts When You Need Them by Stacie Billis. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2016. All photos from Make It Easy by Naomi McColloch
Serves 4

1 pound soba noodles
4 scallions, trimmed and chopped
1 cup shredded carrot
1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1⁄4-inch-thick strips
1 English cucumber, peeled, cut into 4-inch sections, and then 1⁄4-inch-thick strips
1 cup Ginger Lime Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

1. Cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain some more before placing in a large serving bowl.

2. Add the scallions, carrot, pepper, cucumber, and dressing to the noodles and, using tongs, toss well to combine and coat everything with dressing. Serve immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Ginger Lime Vinaigrette

Makes about 1 cup

1 teaspoon minced garlic (from about 1 clove)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 teaspoon lime zest (from about 1 lime)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 lime)
1/2 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon honey

1. If you have time, place the garlic in a jar, top with the vinegar, lime zest, and lime juice, and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. If you don’t have time, combine the garlic, vinegar, lime zest, and lime juice in a jar and skip to step 2.

2. Add the oil, soy sauce, ginger, mustard, and honey to the vinegar mixture. Seal the jar and shake until the dressing emulsifies. Use immediately or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


Extra-cool: Win it!

We’re so happy to be giving away a $250 Target gift card plus your own copy of Make It Easy in celebration of the book launch!


A huge giveaway on Cool Mom Eats to celebrate the release of Make It Easy, a new cookbook for family cooks that we're loving! | Cool Mom Eats

Each day through Friday, May 27 offers more chances to win for each person, for 20 in total!

Here’s how: