Asian-Style Noodle Salad

Asian-Style Noodle Salad
Asian-Style Noodle Salad

Full Servings of Whole Grains and Vegetables Kids Will Love

Summer is winding down for everyone, but don’t let that keep you from kicking your healthy eating habits into high gear. Having something in the fridge to serve as either a healthy snack to keep kids (and parents) going strong all day long, or as a side dish that ventures out of the tried-and-true, is a real benefit for everyone.

First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative is raising awareness about the importance of making healthier choices and rallying support from parents, children, teachers, school administrators, and food service directors. A team at The Culinary Institute of America called Menu for Healthy Kids (MFHK) has been addressing these issues for the past two years by sending students on their externship field experience right into the schools to find out firsthand how the school lunch programs operate and to identify opportunities to help make a change for the better.

Of course, children are eating meals at home as well as at school. That means that the foods parents buy and prepare for their children can play a big role. The CIA took a basic noodle salad recipe and made some changes that add to the flavor and eye appeal of the dish. This recipe starts with a whole grain pasta for a serving of whole grains, and then adds as many bright, fresh, flavorful vegetables as are in season: broccoli, red and green peppers, red onions, corn, peas, carrots, red cabbage, and more. To finish it, toss these delicious ingredients together with an Asian-inspired dressing made with orange juice, peanut butter, and a dash of soy sauce. You can also add a bit of chicken or seafood to make this into a main dish, if you like. And, if you don’t eat peanuts, you can still enjoy this dressing by replacing the peanut butter with pureed white beans. Just use an equal amount of cooked or canned white beans such as cannellini, drain and rinse, and then put them into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Make a batch of this satisfying and refreshing salad to serve as an after-school snack, to pack in lunch boxes for an entrée, or to serve as a side dish at dinner. Healthier options like this salad are as easy to make as they are to enjoy.

For more information on Menu for Healthy Kids, great recipes, and tips on how you can get involved, please visit our website at


Asian-Style Noodle Salad

Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 ounces whole wheat spaghetti, uncooked
  • 3 cups shredded peeled carrots
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen and thawed green peas
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced peeled cucumber
  • 3/4 cup seeded green bell pepper strips
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen and thawed corn kernels
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen and thawed broccoli florets
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cup Peanut-Orange Dressing (recipe follows)
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and add the salt.
  2. Add the spaghetti to the water and stir to submerge and separate the strands. Cook until al dente (not too soft) per the box instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water until chilled, and drain again. Transfer to a bowl.
  3. Mix all the vegetables with the noodles in the bowl.
  4. Add the dressing and toss until evenly coated. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.


Peanut-Orange Dressing

Makes 1 cup

  1. 1 tablespoon soy sauce (reduced sodium if available)
  2. 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  3. 1/2 cup thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
  4. 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, reduced fat (you may substitute 1/4 cup pureed white beans)
  5. 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
  6. 1/4 cup water, as needed
  1. To make the dressing, stir the soy sauce and cornstarch together with a fork to make a slurry.
  2. Heat the orange juice concentrate over medium heat in a saucepan until it reaches a simmer. Once simmering, add the slurry and continue to cook until it boils and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Remove the orange mixture from the heat and combine with the peanut butter in a bowl.
    Whisk in the oil. Add water as necessary; dressing should be thick but not solid or firm.

Recipe Notes: One 3/4-cup serving provides one serving (1/2 cup) of vegetables and 1/2 serving of whole grains/breads.

Nutrition analysis per 6-ounce serving: 236 calories, 8g protein, 30g carbohydrate, 11g fat, 2g saturated fat, 280mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol, 5g fiber.