With the searing hot days of summer here, and just the thought of spending hours in our kitchens cooking has us sweating. Not to mention turning on that metal-fire-box thing that dare not speak its name.
But what do when you still have to feed the family, or a few friends who have stopped by for a summer hang-out? Cold noodle dishes are the perfect solution that require little or no cooking and – when mingled with some protein and fresh veggies – make a refreshing, complete meal.
The best part: These dishes can be made in stages, so you can prepare the dressing, cook the protein and chop the veggies the day before, then cook the noodles and chill the next day. You can assemble it all at once, or just store in containers in the fridge so everyone can just nosh at their leisure.
Perfect for the lazy days of summer, when you can’t stand the heat and want to get out of the kitchen.
Top: Pho Salad recipe | Marc Matsumoto for PBS
Simple and refreshing, this Cold Somen Noodle Recipe at Just One Cookbook is the perfect first cold noodle dish for your new cold noodle repertoire. This was a staple growing up in my Japanese American household, and now it’s a favorite of my own kids.
The noodles are always served separately alongside a dipping sauce called tsuyu and topped with thin slices of egg crepes and julienned cucumbers, or simply with grated ginger and scallion. Namiko offers great tips on buying and cooking the somen noodles, too.
Shortcut: I’ve used bottled tsuyu in a pinch. Even my Japanese grandmother would have understood.
I predict these Cold Sesame Noodles from The Woks Of Life are going to become a favorite in your household, even in the non-summer months. The noodles are tossed with a refreshing mix of veggies and sesame seeds, and then topped with a dressing made out of tahini, peanut butter, sesame oil and soy sauce, which sounds like it would be delicious on a lot of other dishes, too.
I actually ran out this weekend and bought all of the ingredients to make these Vietnamese Noodles With Lemongrass Chicken at Recipe Tin Eats because I couldn’t stop thinking about this cold noodle dish. Can you blame me? The chicken in lemongrass marinade, the spicy dressing, the crunchy veggies and mint – chef Nagi says it’s her go-to dish and I think it’s going to be mine, too.
Those on a gluten-free diet are going to love this recipe for Zaru Soba at Pickled Plum. Soba noodles are Japanese buckwheat noodles and have a heartier flavor and texture (and fewer calories) than wheat noodles. This dish, which is a staple in our house all year long, is served in a similar way to somen noodles: alongside a dipping sauce called tsuyu.
Cold soba is often accompanied by vegetable and/or shrimp tempura, which you can pick up at a Japanese restaurant. Because no one should be frying anything during summer.
If you don’t like the heat but love a little spice, this recipe for Fiery Cold Sichuan Sesame Noodle at Lady & Pups may be right up your alley. The chili paste, made by combining red sichuan peppercorns, red chili flakes and cumin along with the sesame sauce, will provide a nice foil for the cool salad of ramen noodles, cucumbers and radishes. The perfect cold noodle dish recipe for a hot summer day. Or night.
For a pho fanatic like me who can’t stand the thought of hot soup on a 90 degree day, this Pho Salad recipe from Marc Matsumoto (also at top) is a dream come true. Combining all of the ingredients of pho bo, beef noodle soup, into a refreshing salad is pure genius. Rice noodles, thinly sliced beef, fish sauce, basil and cilantro – all the essentials of this Vietnamese cold noodle dish are there, only served cold and sans broth. Did I mention genius?
Here’s the absolute best way to get your kimchi and noodle fix, and beat the summer swelter at the same time. This Spicy Cold Kimchi Noodles recipe at My Korean Kitchen is made with Japanese somen noodles, kimchi and homemade bibim (hot) sauce and are packed with heat and goodness. You can add as much, or as little, kimchi as you’d like, according to your own personal heat index. Fun fact: Spicy foods cool you down in the summer.
There’s no shame in having instant ramen around the house, especially when they can be transformed into this gorgeous Crunchy Ramen Noodle Salad at Food, Folks and Fun. Using uncooked ramen noodles (c’mon, you know you’ve crunched a few before you tossed them in the boiling water) and a healthy mix of edamame, carrots, chicken and avocado, this cold noodle salad dish is ideal for serving a crowd — and maybe even a clever way to get your veggie-averse kids to eat a salad. Because who doesn’t like ramen?