Fresh and vibrant Soba Salad with crisp veggies, edamame, and a creamy Sesame-Cashew Sauce. Ready in just 20 minutes, this vegan soba noodle salad is make-ahead friendly and a universal favorite.
Is there anything better than cold, crisp salads during the warmer weather months? I typically enjoy greens-based salads on the daily, however every now and again, it’s nice to add a heartier element to greens.
Enter: soba noodles! These nutty, buckwheat-based noodles are quick-cooking and a blank canvas for any flavor profile you throw their way.
This colorful noodle salad is infinitely riffable. Use any combination of vegetables you like: carrots, snap peas, bok choy, bell peppers, cabbage, etc. The simple sesame-cashew sauce lets the vegetables shine next to earthy soba noodles.
How to Make the Best Soba Salad:
This is a great salad to make ahead for workday lunches or quick weeknight dinners. It comes together in 20 minutes and holds up beautifully for leftovers the next day.
It’s also super filling, delivering both heart-healthy fats and fiber. (Remind me to write a love letter to buckwheat this week.)
Cold summer salad with crisp vegetables and a bracing dressing to bring it all together: what could be better?
- Soba Noodles: Soba is a thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. They have a toasty, nutty flavor, and naturally gluten free + rich in fiber. You can sub whole-wheat spaghetti if you can’t find them.
- Napa Cabbage: With broad leaves, mellow sweetness, and crunchy texture, Napa cabbage is super versatile. When shopping, Napa may also be listed as celery cabbage or Chinese cabbage.
- Carrots: For convenience, look for matchstick carrots. Alternatively, you can shred or julienne whole carrots yourself.
- Bell Pepper: Any bell pepper color will work, however I love the sweetness and vibrancy of red for this salad.
- Edamame: For a one-two punch of protein and fiber, edamame (soy beans) make the soba salad extra satiating. Alternatively, you can use shredded rotisserie chicken or tofu.
- Cilantro: If you’re not a cilantro fan, green onion will also work well.
- Cashew Butter: Mild, creamy, and with a mellow sweetness, creamy butter adds rich creaminess to the dressing. Alternatively, you can use peanut or almond butter.
- Vinegar: I prefer using rice vinegar, however apple cider vinegar or lime juice will also work!
- Tamari: To keep the salad gluten free, the sauce calls for lower-sodium tamari. You can also use its wheat-based cousin, soy sauce, if not making the salad GF.
- Honey: Either honey or maple syrup sweetens the sauce just enough to balance the rich sesame flavor.
- Sesame Oil: Look for toasted sesame oil, which has a richer, deeper flavor.
- Ginger + Garlic: Use fresh, if possible, which offers more pungency than dried.
Step 1: Boil Soba Noodles
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Note: Soba noodles are easy to overcook, so test for doneness early, and rinse with cold water as soon as they’re ready to halt the cooking process.
Step 2: Mix Sesame-Cashew Sauce
In a medium bowl or 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth. If the dressing is too thick, whisk in 1 to 2 Tbsp. of water to thin to desired consistency.
Step 3: Combine Soba Salad Ingredients
In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked soba noodles, shredded cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, edamame (or shredded chicken), and cilantro. Add dressing and toss well to coat. Garnish with sesame sticks or nuts, and toasted sesame seeds.
- Note: I find the flavor is best after letting the soba salad sit for 15 to 20 minutes. This allows the dressing to sufficiently marinate the noodles and veggies.
Make-Ahead and Storage Tips:
- Make-Ahead: Prepare the dressing up to 2 days ahead and keep refrigerated. When ready to use, let the dressing sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour to loosen.
- You can also shred and slice the veggies 1 day ahead.
- Store: This vegan soba noodle salad will last up to 2 days refrigerated. Before digging into leftovers, add a spritz of lemon juice and sprinkle of fresh cilantro to help wake up the flavors.
FAQs and Expert Tips:
What Kind of Noodle is Soba?
Soba is a thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat. They have a toasty, nutty flavor, and are typically served chilled in a salad, or in a hot noodle soup.
Is Soba Healthier than Pasta?
Soba noodles are made from buckwheat, which is naturally gluten free and high in fiber. Soba noodles overall have a more desirable nutrition profile since they’re also higher in protein than wheat pasta noodles.
What Goes Well with Cold Soba Salads?
Soba noodle salads are incredibly versatile, and take well to many combinations of veggies and sauces. I like to include something crunchy (like shredded cabbage), a creamy dressing, and fresh, lively garnish, such as cilantro and lime.
More Asian-Inspired Salad Recipes to Try:
Soba Noodle Salad with Sesame-Cashew Sauce
- Large stockpot
- Mixing bowls
- 1 (8-oz.) pkg. soba noodles
- 4 cups shredded cabbage (green, purple, Savoy or Napa cabbage)
- 2 cups matchstick carrots
- 1 red bell pepper, juilienned
- 1 cup shelled edamame (or 1 to 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken)
- 3/4 cup torn cilantro leaves
- 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
- Optional garnish: sesame sticks or roasted chopped cashews, lime wedges, a drizzle of chili oil or sriracha for heat
- 1/2 cup cashew butter (sub peanut butter)
- 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. lower-sodium tamari
- 2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.Note: Soba noodles are easy to overcook, so test for doneness early, and rinse with cold water as soon as they’re ready to halt the cooking process.
- Prepare Cashew-Sesame Dressing:In a medium bowl or 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together the dressing ingredients until combined. Whisk in 1 to 2 Tbsp. water to thin out, if desired.
- In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked soba noodles, shredded cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, edamame (or shredded chicken), and cilantro. Add dressing and toss well to combine. Sprinkle salad with sesame seeds, and add garnishes of choice. Note: I find the flavor is best after letting the soba salad sit for 15 to 20 minutes. This allows the dressing to sufficiently marinate the noodles and veggies.
- Make-Ahead: Prepare the dressing up to 2 days ahead and keep refrigerated. When ready to use, let the dressing sit at room temperature for at least 1 hous to loosen.
- You can also shred and slice the veggies 1 day ahead.
- Store: Refrigerate for 2 days. Before digging into leftovers, add a spritz of lime juice and sprinkle of fresh cilantro to help rewaken the flavors.