If you’re in the market for a colorful, cold, make-ahead meal, this delectable Glass Noodle Salad is what you’ve been looking for. Made with naturally gluten-free Asian vermicelli, a bevy of crunchy veggies, extra-firm tofu, and a deliciously creamy-salty-nutty-sweet dressing, this cold noodle salad is my current dinnertime obsession.
If you love entrée salads, check out my Vegan Mediterranean Chickpea Salad, Pesto Pasta Salad, and Fall Harvest Salad next. Or, if you’re still craving some Asian-inspired goodness, try my Crispy Orange Tofu or Watermelon Tuna Poke Bowls instead!
With spring just beginning to put herself on display, I’m getting super excited about all my favorite warm-weather foods. This cold glass noodle salad is the perfect mix of comforting pasta and light, bright flavors to help transition away from the heaviness of winter meals.
Al dente gluten-free noodles are tossed with crispy romaine, sweet carrot, fresh cucumber, piquant green onions, hearty chunks of protein-packed tofu, crunchy peanuts, and a creamy sesame dressing for an Asian-inspired, veggie-packed riff on pasta salad. Is your mouth watering yet? Me too!
What are glass noodles?
Glass noodles, also known as cellophane noodles, are made by combining some kind of gluten-free starch with water, then mixing, washing, pulling, stretching, and extruding them into long, skinny, angel hair-shaped noodles.
Depending on which brand you get and which country the glass noodles come from, they may be made with mung bean, sweet potato, tapioca, or regular potato starch. Since glass noodles can be made with such a wide variety of ingredients, they may be relatively clear or somewhat opaque and range from white to a pale brown or grey color.
This vegan gluten-free pasta salad requires just a few simple ingredients, many of which I’d bet you already have on hand. It is also a very forgiving recipe, so feel free to swap in or add any veggies that are languishing in your crisper drawer. Here’s what to grab:
- Glass Noodles - If you are unable to procure cellophane noodles, rice vermicelli or shirataki noodles (often branded as Healthy Noodle or Miracle Noodles) are both very close substitutes that also happen to be gluten-free.
- Extra-Firm Tofu - For added protein. Feel free to grill or air-fry it if you prefer, but I just add it to the salad raw where it acts like a sponge for the creamy dressing.
- Romaine Lettuce - You can also use shredded iceberg lettuce or cabbage if you prefer.
- Cucumber - For extra crunch. Jicama or fresh fennel bulb can also be used instead.
- Carrot - For sweetness and bright color. You’re welcome to use any color of carrot (yellow, orange, or purple), or swap in parsnips or bell peppers instead.
- Green Onion - For color and a bit of allium astringency. Use both the greens and whites for the best combination of looks and flavor.
- Cilantro - Fresh herbs are always welcome in a cold noodle salad IMHO. Other tasty options include Thai basil or mint.
- Peanuts - For crunchy, salty, nutty goodness. You’re welcome to swap in chopped roasted cashews, macadamia nuts, sliced almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds if you prefer.
- Jalapeño - For a touch of heat. If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, make sure to carefully remove the seeds and white membranes before chopping them and adding them to the salad.
- Lime - For brightness and tart acidity. Make sure to use fresh limes for the best flavor. In a pinch, you can swap in Nellie and Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice which is bottled but tastes *pretty* close to the real thing.
- Vegan Mayonnaise - For a creamy, emulsified salad dressing.
- Maple Syrup or Agave Nectar - For sweetness. Brown rice syrup or date syrup can also be used.
- Soy Sauce - For salty, umami goodness. Other options include Tamari, coconut aminos, Bragg’s liquid aminos, or vegan fish sauce.
- Rice Vinegar - For light, bright acidity that verges on sweet. Feel free to swap in apple cider vinegar instead.
- Dijon Mustard - For piquancy. You can also use spicy brown mustard, Chinese mustard, or yellow mustard if that’s what you have on hand.
- Sesame Oil - For warmth and nuttiness. Tahini makes for a good swap!
Pro Tips for Cold Asian Noodle Salad
- Invest in a julienne peeler or mandoline with a julienne attachment to make quick work of shredding your veggies. Alternatively, use the large holes on a box grater or a food processor with the grater attachment.
- To get the most juice from your limes, give them a firm roll on the counter for 10-15 seconds before slicing them open.
Can glass noodles be eaten cold? Absolutely! I like serving this vegan noodle salad cold from the fridge or at room temperature.
What do glass noodles taste like? Much like any other style of pasta, glass noodles don’t have a ton of flavor on their own. They’re slightly sweet from the starch but are otherwise bland. That said, they are great for soaking up whatever flavors you throw at them!
How To Make Glass Noodle Salad
- Make the Dressing: Add all of the dressing ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until combined or shake vigorously in a lidded mason jar. Set aside.
- Cook the Noodles: If you're using healthy noodles or miracle noodles, first drain and rinse the noodles. Then, sauté them in a pan for 3-5 minutes until warmed through. If you're using rice noodles, bring a large pot of water to boil. Then, add the noodles and boil for 5-7 minutes or until the noodles are tender. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Divide the noodles between two bowls.
- Prep all of the Veggies: Wash and chop all of the veggies, and divide them between the two bowls.
- Top the salad with the noodles, crushed peanuts, jalapeño, and a lime wedge (if using), and pour the dressing over top. Enjoy!
As much as I love this veggie tofu noodle salad just as written, there is always room for you to make just about any recipe your own. Here are a few variations and dietary adaptations worth considering:
- Soy-Free - If soy products are a no-no in your house, drop the tofu and swap in coconut aminos, liquid aminos, or a soy-free vegan fish sauce substitute for the soy sauce.
- Gluten-Free - If you’re strictly gluten-free, swap soy sauce for gluten-free tamari or coconut aminos.
- Add-Ins - One of the best parts of this healthy noodle salad is how adaptable it is. Feel free to use it as a refrigerator cleanse at the end of the week to use up any bits and bobs of produce that are kicking around in your crisper drawers. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Edamame - You can use either fresh or frozen here. Just make sure to remove it from the pod first!
- Corn - Fresh, frozen, or even drained canned corn can be used. Feel free to roast or grill it first if you like.
- Bean Sprouts - Delightful for added crunch and a touch of earthiness.
- Bell Pepper - Any color will do great!
- Cabbage - Red, green, Napa, or Chinese cabbage are all excellent choices. You can also shred bok choy or even brussels sprouts if you like.
- Mango - Use unripe green mango for more of a tart, firm experience, or use ripe mango to add sweetness.
- Mandarin Supremes - A “supreme” of citrus just means a wedge that has been removed from the skin. I like to keep canned mandarins packed in juice or water for keeping prep to a minimum.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
With a lovely balance of crunchy vegetables, carby noodles, protein-packed tofu, and a yummy sesame-soy salad dressing, this just might be a miracle noodle salad! It’s nourishing, hunger-busting, and perfect for packed lunches.
Aside from being absolutely crave-worthy, this simple recipe for glass noodle salad is also:
- Quick & Easy - It only takes about 15 minutes to whip up a batch.
- Super Versatile - Feel free to swap out any ingredients you don’t like, or add any extra ingredients you have on hand. It is customizable to the max!
- Meal Prep-Friendly - I love to make a batch on my weekend so I’m ready with healthy grab-and-go meals throughout the week.
- Budget-Friendly - These cold noodles are awesome because they taste good, but ALSO because they help to stretch out more expensive ingredients like fresh produce.
Let me know if you try this glass noodle salad recipe, and if you do, I would love it if you left a rating and review below! Also, make sure you are also following along on Instagram and Pinterest for more food inspiration.
More Yummy Vegan Recipes:
- Cauliflower fajita bowls
- Mediterranean Buddha Bowl
- Tofu poke bowl
- Chipotle burrito bowl
- Pasta al Limone
- Crispy orange tofu
- Yellow curry
- Pineapple fried rice
- Falafel sandwich
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