Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chilled Peanut Butter Noodle Salad - "The Mental Salad"

Golden West Cafe in Baltimore has one of my all-time favorite dishes: the vegan Mental Salad. It is essentially a romaine salad topped with cold peanut butter sauce-covered noodles, carrots, scallions & sesame seeds. It is so delicious and I just had to replicate it! I needed a starting place, so I used a Table For Two recipe as a guide. My recipe was enough to feed two people dinner, plus a few days of leftovers (these noodles are perfect for leftovers, since they have to be chilled anyway). Enjoy!

Prep Time:15 minutes (+ 40 minutes for cooling)
Cook Time: 45 minutes

For noodles
3/4 pound of noodles -- you can use many types of noodles here: spaghetti, rice noodles, udon, etc. I used Hakubaku's organic wheat ramen noodles.
2/3 cup of water
1/2 cup of peanut butter -- you can choose smooth or crunchy. I did about half and half. I think I also might have used more than 1/2 cup of peanut butter because I kept adding more in to taste. You do you.
1/4 cup of soy sauce
1/4 cup of rice vinegar -- try to get the seasoned one, if you can
Three (3) tablespoons of brown sugar
1/4 cup of peanut oil
Three (3) teaspoons of chili garlic sauce
One (1) teaspoon of sesame oil
One (1) inch of fresh ginger, peeled
Three (3) cloves of garlic, minced -- the original recipe calls for only one clove, but c'mon
Sriracha to taste -- I ended up tossing in about an extra two tablespoons of sriracha
For topping
Two (2) tablespoons of sesame seeds, toasted
Handful of fresh scallions, chopped
Two (2) tablespoons of unsalted (or lightly salted) peanuts, crushed
For salad
Three (3) cups of romaine -- I used about 1 1/2 to 2 cups per serving
1/2 cup of carrots, chopped finely or slivered

Cook noodles according to package.

While noodles are cooking, combine water, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, peanut oil, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic in a blender or food processor.
Process/blend until smooth.
When noodles are done, drain them and place them into a large mixing bowl (preferably one with a cover). Spoon in the peanut butter mixture and toss until the noodles are coated. If you have a covered bowl, you can just shake it. Here is T-Swift's Shake It Off  to get you through that. Taste and add sriracha if needed.

Refrigerate for about 40-45 minutes. You'll know when it's done because it will be cool and the sauce will be much thicker.

When you're ready to serve, spoon some noodles onto a bed of romaine and carrots. Top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds, crushed peanuts, and fresh scallions.