Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Shrimp and Noodle Salad with Ginger Dressing

Although safely ensconced in my central air-equipped house during the days of record-setting oppressive heat, I could barely bring myself to turn on the stove or oven to cook dinner and certainly had no appetite for anything warm. In the dog days of summer, cool, fresh meals like this noodle bowl are exactly what I crave. The combination of whole wheat noodles, crunchy vegetables, and savory shrimp blended together with cilantro, scallions, and a vibrant dressing comes together in a manner of minutes thanks to a number of short-cut ingredients. It's flavorful enough to wake up almost any palate, but still mild enough to be a crowd-pleaser, provided you're not feeding anyone who hates cilantro. If you like your food with heat, as I do, I recommend adding a bit of Sriracha at the end. And although I'll rarely turn down a dish involving shrimp, this can easily be made vegetarian by substituting baked tofu for the shrimp, or just omitting them entirely. With all the psychologically and gastronomically satisfying characteristics of take-out sans the calories, MSG, and expense, this is the perfect meal for busy, steamy summer days.

Shrimp and Noodle Salad with Ginger Dressing 
adapted from Food and Wine
serves 4

8 ounces dried udon noodles or whole wheat spaghetti or fettuccine
12 ounces shredded coleslaw mix
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves
3/4 pound cooked medium shrimp, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon Chinese chile-garlic sauce
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Lime wedges and Sriracha (optional), for serving

1. Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Pat dry and transfer to a large bowl. Add the coleslaw mix, scallions, cilantro and shrimp.

2. In a blender, combine the teriyaki sauce with the ginger and chile-garlic sauce and puree until smooth. With the machine on, slowly add the vegetable oil in a thin stream and puree until the dressing is emulsified. Season lightly with salt. Add the dressing to the bowl with the udon noodles and toss well. Serve the noodle salad with lime wedges on the side, and a shot of Sriracha, if desired.

Make Ahead The dressed salad can be refrigerated overnight. Add the shrimp just before serving.

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