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Low sodium noodle salad with peanut-sesame dressing (with nut-free option)

This is the best low sodium salad I've ever made, and I made it a lot this summer. It's the dish I make when I'm feeding people who don't eat a low sodium diet because I swear nobody is going to miss the sodium. I've modified the recipe in the past few months to make it easier. It's all store-bought ingredients (no homemade sauces to start with), and most of the recipe is measured in tablespoons to minimize dirty dishes. This recipe is really just for the dressing, which is the star of the show here. I also offer suggestions on types of vegetables and herbs that work well.


Servings: 4 entree-seized servings or 6 servings as a side dish

Sodium: Dressing has less than 5 mg sodium per tablespoon, sodium will depend on vegetables/proteins used

Time: 15 minutes to mix up the dressing, but make it overnight if you can


Dressing ingredients:

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted peanut butter or tahini (or any nut butter)

1 tablespoon unsalted mustard

6 tablespoons unsalted rice vinegar

5 tablespoons sesame oil

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

1 one-inch piece of ginger, peeled and smashed

Juice of 1 lime

Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)


For the dressing, just throw everything together and mix until it's all blended into a smooth, thick dressing. If you don't have unsalted mustard, use 1 teaspoon (which is equal to 1/3 a tablespoon if you don't want to get another measuring spoon dirty) of dry ground mustard. If you love ginger, mince or grate the ginger. If, like my husband, you like the flavor of ginger but hate biting into ginger, you can leave the ginger whole and smash it to release more flavor. When it's time for serving, you can easily fish out that chunk of ginger. The dressing tastes better after sitting for a day and I also like it cold so make it in advance. It keeps really well in the refrigerator but if you're planning to serve it more than one day after making it, hold off on the lime and just add the lime juice when you eat it. I find the lime juice can sort of get bitter if it sits more than a day but maybe that's just me.


We go through so much unsalted peanut butter in our family that whenever we get to the bottom of a jar, I throw it in the freezer and use it whenever I'm making this dressing. Just throw everything into the peanut butter jar, put the cap on and shake it up.



So what should you serve this dressing over?


Here is one combination I really like:


8 oz spaghetti, cooked according to package and cooled to room temperature

8 cups of cabbage, purple cabbage, bell peppers, mint, cilantro, and Thai basil, all sliced very thin. This is my favorite combination because the veggies hold up well and don't get soggy like cucumbers would. As you can see I tend to go very heavy on the herbs because my parents grow them so I often have a huge supply in the summer but also because they add so much flavor!




Here's another option:


8 ounces short pasta like fusilli or penne

1 bunch kale, roasted or sautéed

8 ounces sugar snap peas, sliced thin

1/4 cup mint, chopped

Sesame seeds to sprinkle on top






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