Vegan Sesame-Cashew Soba Noodle Salad

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Hearty soba noodles meet a creamy and spicy sesame-cashew sauce and are paired with seared tempeh and fresh veggies in this Vegan Soba Noodle Salad. Packed with flavor but easy enough for a weeknight dinner!
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 50 mins

Back in law school, I didn’t have much time for elaborate cooking, but I did eat almost all of my meals at home. One of my weekly meals was a tofu and noodle stir-fry that I made with soba noodles, a bag of seasoned frozen vegetables, and tofu marinated in Trader Joe’s Soyaki sauce. It was incredibly simple (I literally just dumped some of the sauce on the tofu and left it in the fridge for an hour, and steamed the frozen vegetables. It wasn’t gourmet but I remember enjoying it on the regular.

This Spicy Sesame-Cashew Noodle Salad is my grown-up version of that law school-favorite. It’s made with nutrient-rich whole foods, tastes incredible, and is easy to make! What more could you ask for? Plus, it’s packed with protein!

Spicy Sesame-Cashew Noodle Salad

First things first, this is a noodle salad, but it can be served warm or cold. I served it warm when I first made it, and then ate leftovers both cold and hot. Also, I used soba noodles, but you can use another type of noodles, such as brown rice noodles, rice noodles, or spelt noodles. Soba is simply the Japanese word for buckwheat. If you buy 100% soba/buckwheat noodles, they will be gluten-free, as buckwheat is a pseudo-grain that’s naturally gluten-free. However, many commercial varieties of soba noodles are made with part buckwheat flour, part wheat flour and are therefore not gluten-free.

Soba noodles are my favorite because they have this hearty, nutty taste and are packed with protein (1 serving has 8 grams of protein).

Spicy Sesame-Cashew Noodle Salad
Spicy Sesame-Cashew Noodle Salad

This noodle salad also gets a ton of protein from tempeh and edamame. Tempeh is another one of my favorite foods, though for some reason, I don’t eat it very often (I am trying to change that with this delicious recipe)! It’s made from fermented whole soy beans and is minimally processed, making it a highly nutritious, protein-rich option. Just three ounces of tempeh has 16 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, and of course absolutely zero cholesterol. You can bring that nutrition fact up anytime someone insists that a vegan diet can’t provide enough protein!

Typically, I steam the tempeh for 10 minutes before further cooking it because it removes that slightly bitter taste, but I find that the combination of thinly slicing them and brushing on the tamari or soy sauce masks that taste. However, if you are ultra-sensitive to bitter food, I recommend steaming the tempeh for 10 minutes before pan-frying it. The pan-frying part couldn’t be simpler. You just need a tiny bit of cooking oil, a hot pan, and some tamari or soy sauce!

Spicy Sesame-Cashew Noodle Salad
Spicy Sesame-Cashew Noodle Salad

Now for my favorite part, the spicy sesame-cashew sauce! This sauce is unreal. Like finger-lickin’ good. It’s spicy, a little sweet, a little tangy, and bursting with flavor. When it’s not dressing this noodle salad, I also use it as a dipping sauce for spring rolls/dumplings/various finger foods (just leave out the water called for in this recipe).

Regarding the spice factor, I used a whole teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes because I LOVE very spicy food, but for most people, a half teaspoon will be sufficient. And if you’re sensitive to spicy food, just a pinch will do (or omit it entirely).

I love the flavor combination of cashew and sesame, but if you can’t find cashew butter and/or don’t make it home, almond butter will do the trick. I recommend using peanut butter only if you really love the taste of peanut butter because it has a more pronounced, less subtle taste than either cashew butter or almond butter.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for Spicy Sesame-Cashew Noodle Salad, and if you make it, please drop me a comment below and tag me on Instagram!

Spicy Sesame-Cashew Noodle Salad
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Vegan Sesame-Cashew Soba Noodle Salad

5 from 2 votes
Hearty soba noodles meet a creamy and spicy sesame-cashew sauce and are paired with seared tempeh and fresh veggies in this Vegan Soba Noodle Salad. Packed with flavor but easy enough for a weeknight dinner!
Prep Time: 25 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Chinese-Inspired, Thai-Inspired
Diet Vegan
Keyword: chickpea salad, gluten-free, sesame, soba noodles
Serving size: 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces buckwheat soba noodles or brown rice noodles (check label to ensure gluten-free*)
  • 1 head of broccolini, or broccoli, thick stalks removed and cut into florets
  • Spicy Sesame-Cashew Sauce (recipe below)
  • Pan-Fried Tempeh (recipe below)
  • 1 ½ cups shelled organic edamame
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and shaved into ribbons
  • 2 watermelon radishes, sliced into thin strips
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced on an angle
  • For serving: Black or white sesame seeds

Spicy Sesame-Cashew Sauce

  • ¼ cup cashew butter
  • 1 ½ tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon coconut nectar, brown sugar, or agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ -1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (to your spice preference)
  • 2- inch piece fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
  • ½ cup water

Pan-Fried Tempeh

  • 1 tablespoon refined coconut oil or neutral oil of choice
  • 8 ounces tempeh, cut into ½-inch slices
  • 2-3 teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce

Instructions

  • Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the soba noodles and broccolini (or broccoli) and cook according to the package instructions. My noodles had a cook time of 5-6 minutes, which is the perfect amount of time for broccoli. If you are using noodles with a longer cook time, add the noodles first and then add the broccoli when there is 5-6 minutes left of cook time on the pasta. Drain in a colander and rinse well under cold water and toss to remove some of the starch. Alternatively, you can steam or blanch the broccoli in a separate pot or using an Instant Pot.
  • Meanwhile, make the Pan-Fried Tempeh. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil hot, add the tempeh slices in a single layer. Brush the top layer with a bit of the tamari. Cook the temeph slices, undisturbed, for 3-5 minutes, or until nicely browned. Flip and cook on the other side until well browned, brushing again with the tamari.
  • To make the Spicy Ginger Sesame Cream, place all of the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Alternatively, add all of the ingredients except for the water in a medium bowl and whisk until well incorporated; add the water gradually, whisking to thin.
  • To assemble the salad, toss the cooked noodles with the Spicy Ginger Sesame Cream. Add the cooked tempeh, along with the edamame, carrot ribbons, radish slices, cilantro, scallions, and sesame seeds.

Notes

*Only noodles that are 100% buckwheat are gluten-free. Some soba buckwheat noodles are made with wheat flour, such as these noodles.

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12 comments on Vegan Sesame-Cashew Soba Noodle Salad

  1. Marlena S.

    This colorful meal is breathtaking! I cannot wait to try it. I have had some soba noodles in my pantry just waiting to be used up. Now I just need to get some broccoli and tempeh. Thanks for sharing this recipe, Nisha!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Aww thank you so much Marlena! Very sweet of you to say. I hope you’ve had a chance to make this recipe!

  2. Caitlin Sanders

    We made this for dinner last night and it was sooo good. My boyfriend couldn’t get enough of it and he is a meat eater to say the least. The sauce was perfectly spicy and tangy and I’ll be making it again. Thank you!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Caitlin! That makes me so happy to hear, especially that your meat-eating boyfriend loved it. I am such a huge sucker for a spicy, tangy sauce :)

  3. Allison B.

    We made this with rice noodles (couldn’t find gluten-free soba noodles in my shop) and it was still delicious. We used regular broccoli and added spinach (no watermelon radish in my part of the world). We will be making it again!

    1. Nisha Vora

      Hi Allison! So thrilled to here that you thought it was delicious. I am glad you were able to customize it to your needs and available ingredients,

  4. Sarah

    I’m doing the vegan challenge this week you’ve shared in your blog. I’ve made this for lunch today and it was de-licious! I’ve used broccoli since I couldn’t fond broccolini. Also left the Watermelon radishes off since we don’t know them where I live.I really enjoyed the dressing too: so easy to make yet so delicious!

  5. Juliet

    Hi! Where does the edamame come into play….? I believe it’s not mentioned in the directions.

    1. Nisha Vora

      Oops, sorry about that and thanks for catching the typo – they get tossed in at the end with the the tempeh and veggies. Just updated step 4 :)

  6. Darlene

    Oh my goodness!!! I have never eaten Tempeh, and being 1st week vegan, I could eat this every day… this is so delicious!!! I am really surprising pleased with the tempeh. It’s crunchy on the outside, ‘meaty’ on the inside, and tastes incredible. I steamed it for the 10 minutes as you suggested.I did the 7 day Vegan Challenge, and was so surprised by how delicious every meal was, I bought your book. Your cookbook is beautiful Nisha!! I love your photos, and how every recipe has a little comments about the dish. Best cookbook I’ve seen/read in many years. Thank you so much!!This recipe rocks my world 😋😉

  7. I made this for dinner and it was one the BEST things I have ever made!!! I love it so much. Definitely a new favorite!

  8. Erika

    5 stars
    Love this recipe!! I’ve made it with peanut butter and trying with almond butter later today. I sub the tempeh for tofu because it isn’t that easy to find here.

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