Asian Pasta and Veggie Salad

…and it’s Fight Back Friday!

Have I mentioned lately that I’m on a salad kick?

Be it green salad, pasta salad, or any other kind of salad – I got some serious love going on where salads are concerned!

In the past, I’d just grab some stuff out of the fridge and throw a salad together. If it were a pasta salad of any kind, it tended to have a bit of an “Italian” twist to it. That’s just where my cooking roots are, so where I naturally lean.

Lately, though, I’ve been craving Asian-themed food. Not quite sure what exactly it is that has me dreaming about it. Whatever the catalyst – I’ve got to admit to some fear and trepidation involving “throwing a salad together” with hardly a thought if the outcome is to be recognizable (and hopefully palatable!) in that genre.

Well over a week ago I started surfing the web and studying up on what could go into a successful Asian-tasting pasta salad.

I’ll be honest.

I’ve had some pretty awful renditions at potlucks, etc.

BUT – I’ve also had some incredibly wonderful renditions at potlucks, as well!

When all was said and done I gathered some recipes that had elements that seemed like what I was hoping for, and determined a game plan.

I gathered the ingredients…

…and started prepping the veggies.

First, I snapped the woody stems off of the asparagus tips. You know about that, right? You hold the asparagus spear, bend it – and it will snap right at the perfect place – no more yucky woody asparagus stems! Woo Hoo! Once they were snapped, I did a fairly rough chop of them, then transferred them to a large mixing bowl.

I normally would use the tops of the green onions – but honestly, I was trying to salvage a bunch of green onions I got on a ridiculously cheap sale – and so just the whites on these green onions. Cleaned up, and sliced – they’re perfect.

I can’t believe I forgot to take a picture of the pea pods and peas! But honestly – not all that exciting. I opted for frozen on both of these. I normally would not opt for the frozen pea pods – unless they were the frozen straight from my garden. These ones – truth be told – were pretty bland and – well, life would have been fine had I skipped them all together. Use fresh if at all possible! Please! And I really prefer to use frozen petite green peas for salads. They’re fabulous, so easy to add, and hold up beautifully.

I used about 1/4 of a cup of bamboo shoot strips. These came from a can. I’m not so into using stuff from a can – but this item I just can’t find fresh anywhere nearby. I really ought to have gotten some water chestnuts, too. But I forgot! It would only have enhanced the salad overall. If you want some – throw them on in!

Next I sliced up 8 marinated baby corn. It literally takes seconds to do this – and they taste great, not to mention offer some beautiful color, and texture to the salad.

Next – the cucumber. I opted to julienne it. It would have been fine to rough chop, slice – whatever! But I thought julienning would be good. Next time, I’ll likely use the larger julienne setting on my mandolin. You have one of these, right? I love mine – although had I to do it all over again, I would totally have gotten the V slicer design!

Okay – so all of the veggies are in the large mixing bowl, right?

Now – pour the just cooked, just drained pasta right on top of the veggies. You want to give the veggies a bit of a par steam here with the heat contained in the noodles.

Now go ahead and stir it up thoroughly. See?

Now, while the pasta and veggies are cooling a bit, let’s throw the dressing together.

I grabbed a canning jar to put it in, along with the soy sauce, seasoned rice wine vinegar, safflower oil, dry mustard, ground ginger, garlic powder, and plum sauce.

Once you have all of the ingredients in the jar, shake away! Give it a couple of minutes of vigorous shaking – you want this to emulsify nicely.

Now, dump that dressing on the veggies and pasta:

…and stir it all together.

Doesn’t it smell heavenly?

It tastes good too.

BUT – it will taste even better if you cover it up and put it in the fridge until it’s chilled through.

Trust me on this – it really will.

I was pretty surprised, honestly, that it turned out so wonderfully. I’ve been snacking on it for several days yet – and loving it!

You could kinda go wild with veggies with this one. You like green, yellow, or red peppers? Throw some in! (I’m allergic to them, so I’m not gonna be doing that, okay?) Want some julienned carrot, or sliced celery? Go ahead – live it up, add some in!

Things I’m thinking now that some time has passed…

First – I ended up preferring this with 1.5 times the dressing. It would have been okay with just the single recipe – but I wanted it a little wetter. Know how some pasta salads have all the liquid on the bottom and you gotta stir them up before serving? That’s not this salad. The pasta pretty much drinks up the dressing – it won’t be sitting in liquid – even with 1.5 times the dressing quantity.

Second – it completely could have handled more veggies – lots more veggies. And I love veggies. So next time, I will add more veggies!

Third – you could totally add meat of some sort to this salad and it would fare beautifully. I seriously contemplated dicing up some thinly sliced roast beef and adding it in here. That would be lovely. I’m allergic to chicken – and if I weren’t , it would be an a-okay option, as well. As it turned out – I wasn’t feeling the whole meat thing this time out – which is okay. That’s the beauty of salads – they are completely flexible!

All in all – I like this salad – a lot. And I’ve been thinking the past few days…. “What will be coming up in the garden in the near future that I could add here? Hmmm….”

I love summer!

Enjoy!

Asian Pasta and Veggie Salad

Ingredients
1 pound Cut spaghetti
1/2 pound Asparagus tips, chopped
1 bunch Green onions, sliced
1 cup Pea pods
12 ounces Frozen petite green peas
1/4 cup Bamboo shoots, strips
8 Baby corn (marinated), sliced
1 medium Cucumber, julienned

 

Dressing
1/3 cup Soy sauce
1/3 cup Seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup Safflower oil
1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
1 Tablespoon Plum Sauce

 

  1. In a large bowl, combine vegetables, and toss together.
  2. Cook cut spaghetti in 4 quarts of generously salted water in a large pot. Cook until al dente – about 6 minutes. When done, drain in a colander. DO NOT RINSE. Transfer to bowl with vegetables.
  3. Now mix dressing together. If you prefer a wetter salad, use 1.5 times the recipe.
  4. Toss salad thoroughly, making sure all ingredients are coated with dressing.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to develop.
  6. Enjoy!

Notes:

You could use regular angel hair pasta, spaghetti noodles, or really any pasta you prefer with this salad. Similarly, you could really mix up the vegetables, as well.

Even with 1.5 times the dressing, this salad is nowhere near “soupy” – if you want a wetter salad – be bold and double the dressing!

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