Tangy Noodle Salad

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Tangy Noodles!

Tangy Noodles!

It’s almost the 4th of July and if you are invited to or in charge of  a potluck, you might be scratching your head, trying to come up with something delicious and easy to prepare. Potato salad? Baked beans? Coleslaw?   If you’re like me, you’ve been there and done that.  Time to think outside of the box.

Folks, this is it.  Another tried and true recipe from my catering days!!  If my children are reading this, they are gagging by now since they all, at one time or another, worked for me in my commercial kitchen, and had to boil noodles, grate carrots, toast sesame seeds or put together batches of tangy noodle (aka capellini) salad.  We’d don disposable gloves to toss the noodles and dressing together, then this salad was stored in huge, full-sheet deep pans.  After six hours of nonstop cooking before a huge event (think 400 guests) I’d make a little extra of this salad to take home and then grill and add sliced chicken and make it a meal in one.

Sometimes my son’s entire baseball team ate at our house so I kept this handy for those 17 year old boys.  They loved it, the adults loved it, everyone loved it! Alas… my kids begged me to stop making tangy noodles.

All eating phases generally end, and now my children happily eat this salad if I make it in their homes or when they are visiting Seattle.   It’s perfectly balanced and satisfying and an inevitable crowd pleaser. Plus it’s a little different and visually attractive enough for any 4th of July buffet!

Go forth (or 4th!) and try this.  You can also omit the grated carrots and instead dice up yellow, red and/or orange bell peppers to give it a celebratory appearance. I’ve also added chopped cilantro or black sesame seeds to the top in lieu of green onions. Leftovers really keep well too – at least for a few days.  I’ve even stir fried the noodles as is with some type of protein just to be fancy.

The recipe you will read below has morphed over the years…the original called for black Chinese sesame oil and Chinese balsamic vinegar and fresh noodles, too.  I’ve tested and retested to develop a recipe that is easy – featuring ingredients that can be found at most supermarkets or in your pantry.

Tangy Noodle Salad

Feeds at least 10-15 eaters on a buffet


  • 1 lb. dried Angel hair (capellini) pasta
  • 3 Tbsp dark toasted sesame oil (I have Trader Joes brand)
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • ¼  cups tamari sauce (I’ve used soy sauce in a pinch, but prefer tamari)
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili oil* – it must be spicy (add more the next day if needed but be careful!)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup toasted sesame seeds  (sometimes I use black sesame seeds to switch it up)
  • 1-2 large grated carrot
  • 2 scallions (light green and white parts) sliced into thin rings-for garnish
  • 1/3 cups salted cashews – for garnish

Fill a large stock pot with water and add two teaspoons of table salt and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, combine the rest of the dressing ingredients (the oils, Tamari, vinegar and honey) and whisk together in a small bowl.

Put the angel hair  noodles into the pot and keep boiling them until they are al dente (a little less than package directions – mine took three minutes).   Drain really well, shaking off all the water.  Keep them in the colander, and let them cool a bit, but keep stirring the noodles in the colander so they don’t stick together.

Add half of the dressing to the slightly warm noodles and toss well to combine. I do use disposable gloves to do this.  I add the remainder of the dressing about a half hour later when the noodles are more room temperature.

Stir in the sesame seeds (reserve two tablespoons for garnish) and the grated carrot (reserving a tablespoon for garnish).  Refrigerate overnight or for at least an hour at room temperature.  Right before serving, toss and taste, adding more balsamic vinegar or tamari as needed for your taste buds.   For me  it is seasoned most often well and I do not need to add another thing, but see what you think.

I like to serve this at room temperature – the flavors seem more robust to me this way.  Garnish the finished dish with the reserved sesame seeds, carrots, scallions and cashews. Enjoy!

*I’ve been in places without chili oil, and I simply add cayenne to the dressing until it is fairl


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