Tag Archives: salad

Vegetarian Month

After enjoying many a burger on our USA trip this summer, F suggested we eat vegetarian for a month after getting home. We didn’t eat much meat to begin with, and I rarely cook meat for myself when F isn’t around. In the past couple of years we’ve been thinking more about the ethics and environmental impact of eating meat. We thought a vegetarian month would expand our recipe repertoire and be a fun challenge. Read on to see what dinners we made…

Anita Bean stir fry with tofu

Week 1

  • A variation of this baked ziti for two
  • Salad Niçoise without tuna: lettuce, green beans, boiled eggs, random other veg
  • Three recipes from Anita Bean’s The Vegetarian Athlete’s Cookbook (a newish favorite)
    • Potatoes with spinach & chickpeas
    • Dhal with almonds, plus rice: this has entered the semi-regular dinner rotation
    • Tofu & veg stir fry (photo above)
  • Sweet potato & black bean tacos: a lazy variation of my enchiladas. Anything with sweet potatoes and black beans is okay by me!

Week 2

Kimchi soup

  • Cauliflower fettuccine Alfredo (adapted from this Serious Eats recipe): this was already in the regular rotation. It’s delicious, especially if you like cauliflower, pasta, and creamy foods.
  • Vegetarian kimchi soup with tofu (adapted from Bon Appétit): pictured above. Not the most photogenic, but still quite tasty.
  • Store-bought veggie burgers on Dunn’s brioche buns with roast potatoes
  • My soba noodle salad with peanut sauce and Quorn pieces
  • Vegetarian bolognese with Quorn mince: F made this from scratch. Didn’t miss the meat!

Week 3

Colorful salad + gruyere-melted-baguette

  • Homemade falafel with yogurt sauce, tomatoes, and pita
  • Pan-fried halloumi-portobello-zucchini “burgers” on Dunn’s brioche buns (man, those buns are good!)
  • Colorful salad with boiled eggs and gruyère-melted toast (pictured above)
  • Tofu, greens, beans, and rice bowls from The Full Helping: hearty and healthy but a bit bland, even after I doubled the spice amounts.
  • Takeaway (vegetarian) pizza from Sacro Cuore, our favorite place across the street

Week 4

Veg, beautiful veg!

  • Roast tomato and garlic pasta, à la Joy the Baker: we’ve made this a number of times before and it’s always nice.
  • Pie and mash! Vegetarian Pieminister pies, homemade mash, peas, gravy.
  • Baked sweet potatoes (1 hour in the oven, 400F/200C) with baked beans (Heinz) and peas. There was probably some grated cheese action, too.
  • A BBC Good Food lentil bolognese at Joe and Ciara’s
  • Pancakes & Pflaumenkuchen on the weekend!

Bonus Recipes (I can’t remember when we made these)

The verdict

Our vegetarian month went well and neither of us craved meat. The most difficult part, I found, was finding good veggie options while out and about: Tesco has limited vegetarian options in their lunchtime meal deals… We tried a bunch of new recipes and some will definitely become part of our regular rotation.

We like a bit of meat in our diets for the iron and protein (and taste), but ethically and environmentally it makes sense to cut down quite a bit on our meat consumption. So we’ve decided to keep eating mostly vegetarian but allow up to two dinners per week to be cooked with some kind of animal protein (chicken, fish, pork, beef, etc) that we buy from our local butcher (much happier chickens!). We can also be flexible when eating out.

What has your experience been with eating vegetarian (or not)? If you are a vegetarian, I applaud you!


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Bits of Bulgaria

My good friend Hannah has been living in Bulgaria this year, teaching English in a secondary school. Since I never got around to visiting Hannah while she was doing Peace Corps in Georgia, I decided it was high time I visit her in Bulgaria. She’s finishing up her first year and will stay on next year to work with the BEST (Bulgarian English Speech and Debate Tournaments) Foundation, which organizes speech and debate tournaments — modeled on the American format that some of you may have taken part in during high school — around Bulgaria. Anyway, I spent a lovely few days with Hannah both in Sofia, the capital, and in Pravets, the town she’s been living in. What follows are a few cultural observations and a number of photos of my trip.

I didn’t know much about Bulgaria before traveling, other than a few tidbits I gleaned from reading the Wikipedia page and that I have a Bulgarian learner at work. My expectations were based mainly on my experiences living in Ukraine; I wondered how Bulgaria would feel in comparison, especially as it has been part of the EU for 10 years (and Ukraine has not).

Firstly, language: Bulgarian, like Ukrainian, is a Slavic language and written in the Cyrillic alphabet. I felt strangely at home wandering the streets of Sofia and being able to read signs both in Cyrillic and Latin script. I picked up a number of Bulgarian phrases in my few days there and could understand some, too, thanks to my background in Ukrainian. Hannah’s Bulgarian sounds really good after only ten months there.

Sofia felt both like a Ukrainian city — corner shops selling a random assortment of snacks and alcohol, a good deal of chunky Soviet-style architecture — and much more western — an Asian noodle restaurant, many signs in English, and most cafe/restaurant staff speaking English. It was a fascinating contrast for me.

In terms of food, there’s a good deal of international cuisine in Sofia. Bulgarian cuisine features banitsa, a tasty cheese-stuffed filo pastry snack; lots of yogurt; ayran (a salty kefir-like drink); and fresh, colorful salads (that are not covered in mayonnaise!).

Pravets, the town Hannah lives in, is about 60km north of Sofia and has a cozy population of 4,500. Hannah teaches at the language high school, which draws students from around the region. There’s also a big hotel and golf course that bring in some tourism. It’s in a valley and is surrounded by beautiful green mountains. A peaceful spot.


Recipe: Herbed Israeli Couscous Salad with Dried Apricots & Preserved Lemon

F was away for work this week and I don’t usually feel like cooking when he’s not around, tending to gravitate towards salads, grains, and other quick-prep dishes. Melissa Clark’s recipe for couscous salad with dried apricots and preserved lemon had caught my eye recently and sounded like the perfect thing for a healthy weeknight dinner. I read the recipe to get a general idea of flavors and then improvised from there, using lemon juice rather than white wine vinegar, parsley instead of dill, and adding almonds for protein and crunch.

Health in a bowl

The salad turned out really well: I’ve fallen in love with the combination of sour-salty preserved lemon and sweet, chewy dried apricots. Finely chopped herbs make a great green base for salads and a nice alternative to lettuce.

This dish is light, fresh, and healthy. I enjoyed it so much that I made it again when F got home, adding some grated carrot and diced cucumber for extra veggie points. Feel free to add or subtract ingredients as you’d like — it would work equally well with small couscous or a grain like barley, buckwheat, bulgur, or quinoa.

Herbed Israeli Couscous Salad with Dried Apricots & Preserved Lemon (inspired by Melissa Clark at NYT Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 1 dry cup Israeli couscous
  • olive oil, to taste
  • Juice of 1-2 lemons (to taste)
  • 2-3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 3 preserved lemons, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced small
  • 1/2 cup almonds (roasted & salted are best), roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Optional additions: 1-2 carrots (grated), 1/2 cucumber (diced)

Procedure

  • Cook the couscous by bringing salted water to boil, adding the couscous, and letting it simmer for 8-10 minutes. Drain.
  • While the couscous is cooking, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and cumin in the bottom of a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chop/dice the parsley, mint, preserved lemons, apricots, and almonds. Grate the carrot and dice the cucumber, if using. Add everything to the bowl with the dressing and mix well.
  • Add the couscous to the bowl and mix until everything is combined. Enjoy warm or cold!

Recipe: Beetroot & Carrot Salad with Raisins, Walnuts, & Goat Cheese

Hello again! It has been ages since I posted a recipe. Despite this salad being a staple in F’s and my dinner rotation, I realized when we had it last week that I’ve never actually posted the recipe for it. Allow me to make up for that below.

Colorful and delicious

Colorful and delicious

F introduced me to this juicy combination of grated beet(root) and carrot with raisins and walnuts, all doused in a generous glug of vinegar — sometimes balsamic, sometimes white wine — and olive oil. Goat cheese was my addition, for creaminess and extra protein. Add a bit of nice bread and butter and you have yourself a meal.

This salad is the picture of health and is quick and easy to put together on a weeknight. We usually use pre-cooked beet(root)s — lazy, I know — but you are welcome to roast or boil fresh beet(root)s for this salad. We never measure the ingredients: sometimes we use more carrots, sometimes more beet(root)s. Go for whatever you prefer and whatever you have around. Goat cheese is optional but highly recommended. Feta would work well, too.

Also, do take the time to finely grate the vegetables — it’s worth it for the juiciness and denseness that you get. We’ve taken a shortcut by using the larger/standard grater size, but it’s not quite as good.

Beetroot & Carrot Salad with Raisins, Walnuts, & Goat Cheese (original recipe from the wonderful F)

Ingredients

  • 4 small or 2 large beet(root)s (pre-cooked, roasted, or boiled), finely grated
  • 3-4 medium carrots, finely grated
  • ~1/4 cup raisins
  • ~1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • optional: 100-200g goat cheese
  • to taste: balsamic or white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, & pepper

Procedure

  • Wash and finely grate the beet(root) and carrots into a large salad bowl.
  • Add the raisins and walnuts to the bowl.
  • Dress the salad with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Toss thoroughly.
  • Serve and add the goat cheese to individual portions.

Enjoy!


A Moroccan Feast

Thank you, Easter, for providing us with a long weekend (Friday and Monday are Bank Holidays here in the UK). F and I wanted to enjoy some lamb as an ode to spring, so we invited friends to join us for a pre-Easter dinner on Friday. We could’ve done a traditional roast with the usual carrots and new potatoes, but in a fit of experimentation (and knowing we’d have the whole day to prepare — thank you again, Bank Holiday), F suggested we make Moroccan-style lamb. I suggested that we might as well go all-out and make Moroccan sides, too.

Needless to say, Googling commenced. I went straight to NYT Cooking, the New York Times‘ great hub for all the recipes they publish in their Food and other sections. I searched “Moroccan” and loads of vibrant, delicious looking dishes appeared. I was drawn to the Moroccan Cooked Carrot Salad; Spicy Orange Salad, Moroccan Style; and this couscous. Meanwhile, F found a recipe for Moroccan Lamp with Apricots, Almonds & Mint from BBC Good Food; it is a stew rather than a roast, which made it more attractive as it required less cooking time.

Here is how the meal turned out:

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Perhaps it is a bit monochrome, but boy was it delicious. The stew had such depth of flavor, thanks to cinnamon, apricots, and orange, and the ground almonds gave it a deceptively “creamy” texture. The carrot salad — dressed with lemon juice, spiced with cumin and garlic, and balanced with olives — turned out beautifully. We really liked the pearl couscous laced with cumin, golden raisins, and sautéed onions. The orange salad packed a bit of heat from cayenne, although I left out the garlic, parsley, and olives, as those were already present in the carrot salad.

All in all, a great and delicious success. Will we make these recipes again? Definitely. I’m already looking forward to enjoying the leftovers for lunch.

Do you like Moroccan food? Ever cooked any of it? Post your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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Recipe: Zucchini & Millet Salad with Lemon-Coriander Dressing

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As the holiday season descends and the sweet treats mount up, I sometimes find myself craving a colorful, wholesome salad. This zucchini and millet salad ought to do the trick. Succulent, olive oil-sautéed zucchini complements earthy toasted pumpkin seeds and fluffy millet. The lemon-coriander dressing zings it all together, and pan-fried halloumi adds extra protein and a salty punch.

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Zucchini & Millet Salad with Lemon-Coriander Dressing (adapted from my darling lemon thyme; serves 3-4 generously)

Ingredients

  • Salad:
    • 1.5 cups cooked millet
    • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
    • 2 medium-large zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • Lemon-Coriander Dressing:
    • 1 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
    • juice of 2 lemons
    • 1/4 cup (60mL) olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
    • to taste: salt
  • optional: 1-2 blocks halloumi cheese, sliced medium-thick

Procedure

  • If you haven’t already done it, cook the millet (see link above).
  • While the millet is cooking, prepare the zucchini by sautéing rounds in olive oil over medium-high heat, stirring often. When the zucchini rounds are golden-brown and soft, remove them from the heat and put into a large bowl.
  • While you’re cooking the zucchini, you can toast the pumpkin seeds over medium heat in a small skillet.
  • Fry the halloumi in a little bit of oil over medium-high heat until nicely browned on each side.
  • Make the dressing: combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender), processing until smooth. Add a little cold water if the dressing is too thick.
  • Combine the millet, zucchini, pumpkin seeds, and dressing in the large bowl and toss. Serve the halloumi on the side.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Fresh Corn & Avocado Salad with Basil & Lime

Visiting my parents in the summer is always fun, in part because there are always so many delicious fresh/seasonal fruits and veggies around the house. My dad and I, finding ourselves alone for dinner on a Friday evening, improvised with what ingredients we had and created a colorful and healthy spread: He made delicious BBQ chicken and I came up with this salad, inspired by Mark Bittman. Add some grilled eggplant, and you have a perfect summer meal.

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Fresh Corn & Avocado Salad with Basil & Lime (inspired by Mark Bittman; serves 3-4)

Ingredients

  • 2-3 generous handfuls of your favorite salad greens
  • 4 cobs of fresh corn, blanched & kernels cut off
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • handful of fresh purple basil, minced (feel free to use “normal” green basil)
  • small handful of fresh mint, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 glugs olive oil
  • to taste: salt & pepper

Procedure

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch the corn cobs in it for about 5 minutes. Remove the corn from the water, let cool, then cut the kernels off the cobs.
  • Combine the corn kernels, diced avocado, minced herbs, and salad greens in a large salad bowl. Squeeze the lime over everything, add some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and toss until the salad is evenly coated.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Pasta Salad with Tomatoes & Arugula

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A travel-related post on our lovely week in southeastern Spain is coming soon. While that’s in the works, here’s a summery pasta salad that I made for a simple late dinner on a warm Spanish night. We enjoyed this with some grilled zucchini and eggplant — and chorizo for F — on the side. It’s great slightly warm or cold for lunch the next day (with the leftover grilled veggies chopped up and mixed in). This pasta salad is a great base for experimentation — you can add or subtract ingredients as you like. Let me know what your favorite combination is!

Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Arugula (serves 5-7 generously)

Ingredients

  • 1 package (~750g) bow tie pasta (or other pasta of choice)
  • to taste: olive oil, salt, pepper
  • 200g parmesan/romano/grana padano cheese, finely grated
  • 3-4 medium tomatoes, chopped OR 300g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 300g arugula, washed

Procedure

  • Cook the pasta as directed. While the pasta is cooking, chop the tomatoes and place them in a large bowl.
  • When the pasta is finished, drain it and add it to the bowl with tomatoes. Add the cheese, a few glugs of olive oil, salt and pepper, then toss until everything is well-combined.
  • Add the arugula and toss again.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Crepes with Smoked Salmon, Sour Cream & Dill

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Springtime makes me crave easy, light, delicious dinners. I whipped up these partially whole wheat crepes with smoked salmon and dill on a Monday evening, and they were the perfect thing with some leftover potato salad and a green salad. All I did was use this crepe recipe, replacing the buckwheat flour with whole wheat flour. Fill a fresh crepe with a strip or two of smoked salmon, a dollop of sour cream, some capers, and a sprinkle of fresh minced dillVoila! Dinner. (Or lunch. Or even brunch!)

Recipe: Brussels Sprout & Tomato Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing

For Thanksgiving every year my mom makes a really good cold Brussels sprout salad with tomatoes and a zingy dressing. I recently picked up some Brussels sprouts and didn’t feel like roasting them so thought I’d throw together a similar salad — not only for Thanksgiving — with some tomatoes we had lying around and one of my favorite dressings: lemon-dijon.

photo

This is a tasty and healthy salad that acts as a great side dish for any meat or vegetarian main you’ve prepared. (Mashed potatoes are particularly good for mopping up extra dressing.) Serve it at room temperature or straight from the fridge. Feel free to add some minced scallions/green onions or any other things you think might work well with the earthy Brussels sprouts, fresh tomatoes, and zingy dressing. Toss the leftovers with some couscous or rice for a nice next-day lunch.

Brussels Sprout & Tomato Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing (serves 3-5)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb (200-300g) Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1/2 lb (200-300g) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Lemon-dijon dressing

Procedure

  • Bring a pot of water to boil, then throw in the Brussels sprouts and cook for 15 minutes or until they are firm-soft.
  • Meanwhile, whisk up the dressing in the bottom of your salad bowl and add the halved tomatoes.
  • When the Brussels sprouts are cooked, drain and rinse them in cold water. Slice them in half, add to the tomato and dressing, and toss. Serve at room temperature or chill for at least 1 hour.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Kohlrabi, Carrot & Apple Slaw with Lemon-Dijon Dressing

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Have you had an indulgent weekend? This slaw ought to get you back on track for a healthy week.

I discovered kohlrabi and its glories less than a year ago. A member of the Brassica oleracea species — along with broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts — kohlrabi has a slightly cruciferous smell and taste that isn’t quite as strong as that of its relatives.

Once you cut away the fibrous green skin, a crisp, juicy flesh is revealed. I love raw kohlrabi, and it tastes great with sweeter vegetables or fruits. Thus was born this slaw, a satisfying mix of carrots, kohlrabi, and apple with a tangy lemon-dijon dressing. I grated the produce for this version, but I’ve also made it by cutting everything into little matchstick-sized pieces. Do as you will, but most importantly, love the kohlrabi!

Kohlrabi, Carrot & Apple Slaw with Lemon-Dijon Dressing

Ingredients

  • Lemon-Dijon Dressing:
    • juice of 1 lemon
    • 2-3 tsp dijon mustard
    • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
    • to taste: salt & pepper
  • Slaw:
    • 1 kohlrabi bulb, peeled and grated
    • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
    • 1 apple, grated

Procedure

  • Whisk together the dressing ingredients in the bowl that you’ll use for the slaw.
  • Grate the veggies and fruit directly into the same bowl, then mix until the dressing coats everything.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Warm Tahini-Citrus Couscous & Kale Salad with Baked Sweet Potato

Today I bring you a totally original recipe — that’s right, an inspiration from my own mind (though I’m sure others have had similar inspirations).

 

Couscous salad tastes great warm or cold. It easily stands alone as a full meal, but you could also enjoy it alongside some kind of protein main. The salad gains texture and chew from kale, color and flavor from cherry tomatoes and sweet potato. Tahini-citrus dressing rounds it off with creaminess and zing — they aren’t mutually exclusive.

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You do have to prepare the separate components before mixing everything together, but I can’t stress enough how easily and quickly it all happens. Plus, if you’ve made my garlic-sautéed kale, you’ll notice that this uses just that! Feel free to customize to your tastes, and if you don’t have enough time to bake a sweet potato, just leave it out and your lunch will be ready even sooner.

Warm Tahini-Citrus Couscous & Kale Salad with Baked Sweet Potato (serves 4 generously)

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • Salad:
    • 1 cup dry couscous + 2 cups boiling water
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 3-5 garlic cloves, peeled & sliced thinly
    • 1 large bunch kale, roughly chopped
    • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Dressing:
    • juice of 1 lemon (or lime! I used one half of each)
    • 2-3 tbsp tahini
    • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
  • to taste: salt & pepper

Procedure

  • If using sweet potatoes, poke them a few times, place in a baking dish, and pop them in the oven at 400F (200C) for about an hour, until they’re soft.
  • Make the couscous: Put the dry couscous in a small pot and pour the boiling water over it. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  • Make the kale: Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes, then throw in the chopped kale and stir until it’s coated with oil. Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until the kale is relatively soft.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Add the halved tomatoes. When the couscous and kale are done, add them to the bowl and stir to combine.
  • When the sweet potatoes are ready, you can roughly chop them and add them to the salad or just have them on the side.

Enjoy!

Recipe: Soba Noodle Salad with Asian-Style Peanut Sauce

Finally we have some nice weather in London this week — beautiful, in fact. Sunny with temperatures just below summery — which is totally fine with me. What better way to celebrate that than with a cool, Asian-inspired peanut noodle salad?

vibrant

vibrant

My recipe was inspired by one on The Cozy Apron. I added more vegetables — admittedly, though, in the rush to get everything chopped and mixed together I forgot the cilantro and peanuts — and used buckwheat noodles (aka soba noodles) instead of regular linguine to boost the health factor. The result? Pure deliciousness. We made a lot on purpose so we’d have leftovers to eat for lunch the next day.

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This is such an easy dish to throw together — and it’s a one-dish meal, making prep and clean-up a breeze. The peanut sauce’s flavors complement the chicken, noodles, and vegetables well. (For the vegetarians out there, you could just as easily make this with tofu instead of chicken; or skip the protein all together, since buckwheat noodles themselves have plenty of it.)

Buckwheat Noodle Salad with Asian-Style Peanut Sauce (adapted from this recipe)

Makes 4-6 generous servings

Ingredients

  • Noodle Salad:
    • 500 g buckwheat (soba) noodles, cooked as per the package directions, then rinsed and tossed with oil
    • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled & shredded
    • 1/2 small red cabbage, chopped small
    • 1 carrot, grated or sliced into thin strips
    • 1/2 cucumber, sliced into thin strips
    • 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
    • 3 green onions, minced
    • handful of cilantro, minced
    • 1/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped
  • Peanut Sauce:
    • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
    • 4 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 4 tbsp soy sauce
    • 4 tbsp honey
    • 3 tbsp natural peanut butter
    • juice of 1 lime
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes

Procedure

  • Cook the chicken (you can do this the day before or earlier in the day, if you prefer): boil a pot of water and drop in the chicken breasts. Cook at a gentle boil for 20-25 minutes. Let the chicken cool, then gently pull it apart with two forks or your fingers.
  • When you’re ready to begin preparing everything else, cook the noodles according to the package directions, then rinse them well and toss them with some oil.
  • While the noodles are cooking, make the sauce by whisking together all the necessary ingredients.
  • Chop all of the vegetables and throw them into a large bowl.
  • When the noodles are ready, mix in the chicken and sauce, then add everything to the vegetables and mix carefully but thoroughly until everything is combined. Serve cold or slightly warm.

Enjoy!