RECIPE: Crispy and Crunchy Noodle Salad

With their latest book, Perfectly Good Food, sisters Margaret and Irene Li share strategies for cooking with what’s already in our refrigerators.

This flexible noodle salad is ideal for using up odds and ends of raw vegetables (as long as they're not too limp or wilted). Cut everything into thin strips or shreds to make it easy to swirl everything together on a fork so you'll get some cool crisp vegetables as well as chewy noodles in every bite. You could toss in some cooked vegetables too — don't let us stop you — but we find the textures of the raw summer veggies are what makes this dish so satisfying. As for the soy-miso dressing, go wild with what you have in your pantry. Add grated ginger or minced shallot or onion. Add some funk and depth with a splash of fish sauce, or spice it up with sriracha, hot sauce or Scrap Chili Oil. You'll always want to adjust a dressing like this to taste, given that everyone has their preference on the sweet-savory-tangy scale. 

Read Catherine Walthers profile of the Li sisters here: In ‘Perfectly Good Food,’ No Ingredient Goes to Waste

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Crispy and Crunchy Noodle Salad recipe

RECIPE: Crispy and Crunchy Noodle Salad

  • Author: Margaret Li and Irene Li


If you're taking the salad to a picnic or not eating it right away, dress it right before eating so your greens don't get too soggy.



For the Noodle Salad:

  • Kosher salt
  • 8 ounces noodles of your choice, such as soba or wheat noodles (or more if you love noodles)
  • Neutral or toasted sesame oil, for tossing
  • 1 cup shredded or thinly sliced root vegetables, such as carrots or radishes
  • 1 cup sliced summer vegetables, such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber, fennel, or zucchini
  • 1 1 /2 cups chopped hearty greens, such as cabbage or spinach, and/or light leafy greens, such as red leaf lettuce or arugula
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

For the Soy-Miso Dressing:

  • 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or other vinegar of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, honey, or maple syrup


  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain, toss with a splash of oil to prevent sticking, and spread out on a plate or sheet pan to cool.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and taste. Adjust as needed with more soy, vinegar, or sugar, or a small splash of water if the flavors are too intense. Put your vegetables and any hearty greens in a large serving bowl and toss with a tablespoon or two of the dressing so they have some time to soften.
  3. Once the noodles are cool, add them to the serving bowl, drizzle with some more dressing, and toss to coat. Add any light leafy greens and the scallions and toss again. Top with your choice of garnishes and serve.


Top it off: We like to finish this salad with garnishes such as Quick Pickles; chopped peanuts or another nut of your choice; sesame seeds; and chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, cilantro, or mint. And if you keep a staff of fried onions or shallots in the pantry (highly recommended  — they're good on everything!), you might as well sprinkle some on top.

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Margaret Li and Irene Li
Margaret Li and Irene Li
Perfectly Good Food was released in June, 2023. In this guide/cookbook, Margaret and Irene share their professional knowledge on reducing food waste and their passion for cooking delicious meals with food already on hand. Margaret contributes her knowledge of sustainable food systems from years in the restaurant industry and service on the boards of organizations like Lovin' Spoonfuls and Project Bread. Irene has also worked in the sustainable food world for years. She founded Food Waste Feast, an online resource for flexible recipes, strategies, and tips to fight food waste. 
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