Monday, April 25, 2011

Kelp Noodle Salad and Other Important Things, Including Rhubarb "Mead"

I was at the store recently, when some kelp noodles caught my eye. As something new and interesting to try, they were calling out to me, but I'll admit that I was a little hesitant as well. I like sea vegetables when they have a mild flavor. I'm down with some arame seaweed or a little wakame. I can even handle a little bit of dulse in small doses, but I'm not an all-out seaweed lover...If the flavor is too strong it literally makes  me gag. So, the first thing that crossed my mind was "what if they turn out really seaweedy?...Gulp!" But, as I read through the package, the words "Neutral Flavor" won me over.

There are  a few recipe ideas on the back of the package. One for a miso/peanut noodle salad sounded especially tempting, and I'll try that next time. But today, I wanted to go for something more low-cal, so decided on a soy-wasabi salad:

For the veggie base, I used green onions, sunburst squash, red pepper, carrot, celery and daikon.

The package just gives the ingredient list for the dressing, not the measurements, so here's what I ended up throwing together: 2 Tablespoons Bragg's Aminos, 1 Tablespoon raw agave, 1 Tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar, a good splash of cider vinegar, 1 clove minced garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon wasabi paste. I went light on the wasabi...a little bit more would have been good though.
You don't have to cook these noodles;  they're ready to eat right out of the bag. Here's what they look like: 

According to the package, these little noodlers have a lot going for them: fat-free, gluten-free, low cal and low carb, and they are a source of many trace minerals including iodine.  

My verdict? The texture is great, a little bit rubbery and toothsome...maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but I really like it. The flavor is indeed neutral; the noodles add texture and serve as a vehicle for the dressing, while the core of the salad's flavor comes from the veggies you choose. All in all, I'm glad I gave these a try. They'll be fun to add to salads and switch things up a bit.

Part of the reason I wanted to eat light today was because yesterday (Easter) was quite a feast. We didn't plan on it being quite so just sort of happened that way. For the vegan main course, I made some fettuccine in cashew-basil cream. It was a winner; everyone enjoyed it. 

I didn't measure the sauce when I was making it, but here's roughly what I put in:

Cashew Basil Cream Sauce:
1 generous cup raw cashews, soaked in water for an hour or so
2 generous Tablespoons pine nuts
2 cloves minced garlic
1/8-1/4 cup nutritional yeast (to taste, I usually go for 1/4 cup)
6-8 drops ume plum vinegar (because it's quite salty and tangy, I just drizzle a bit'll have to adjust to your tastes)
1 generous/heaping Tablespoon white miso
2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice ( I usually go for more like 3)
1.5 cups water
Generous 2 cups chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Drain the cashews and blend in food processor with the rest of the ingredients, except the basil. Add the water gradually until you get the smoothness and consistency you want, I went for a thick consistency that was still "pourable".  For a nice smooth consistency, blend it for several minutes. When you've achieved the consistency you want, toss in the chopped basil leaves and pulse a few times to blend through.

Toss the cashew/basil cream with some drained noodles that are just on the verge of al dente and gently heat through. Serve right away with lightly steamed green beans, and some pine nuts and basil shreds to garnish. Pretty yummy stuff!

In addition to the pasta we had broccoli, pineapple, sweet potatoes, salad, and some rye bread. My mom also made some awesome fresh tomato salsa for hors d'oeuvres:

We had strawberry pie and coconut milk ice cream for dessert...sorry no pics. See, what I mean about the feasting?

Now, for a rhubarb "mead" update for anyone who might be interested. Over the weekend, we broke open the rhubarb mead I posted about here. It's a lovely color, lightly effervescent and has a mild flavor, not terribly rhubarby though. (rhubarby...that sounds funny! :D)

Alessandra suggested that it might be more aptly named rhubarb beer...kind of like ginger beer, and I'm inclined to agree. There is only a trace amount of alcohol in it, which can be either good or bad depending on your perspective. Personally, I was hoping for something wee bit stronger. But, it is refreshing mixed with some sparkling water or other sparkling juice, and we'll certainly enjoy sipping it from time to time as the weather warms up. 

And last but certainly not least, I want to give a big Thank You to Rebecca of Enjoying the Journey blog, who was my seed swap partner. Cassie of Vegan Fox fame hosted a seed swap this month, which I thought was a fun idea. 

Rebecca sent me some kale, lavender, and lemon cucumber seeds, all of which I love. She also included a handy seed-starting guide and some fun animal rights stickers. Thanks Rebecca! I'll plant the kale and lavender now, and the cucumbers I'll start in early June. 


  1. I think I'd like the kelp noodles! It's always so much fun to try new things like that.

    The cream sauce looks & sounds divine. Yum!

  2. Everything looks amazing. I must try to find those kelp noodles and see if they would be something I may use every so often. I am always willing to try new ingredients and dishes...looks good.

  3. Rose -- your posts are always fantastic. You really should have a vegan cooking show. -- barbara

  4. The kelp noodles sound interesting and different from the noodles (shiritaki) I tried. I've always passed on the kelp noodles at Chaco Canyon in favor of the zucchini noodles, but maybe I should try them. The dish you made looks really good.

    The pasta sounds wonderful and the mead (ahem) sounds like it was a success!

  5. i think i tried something similar to kelp noodles, but mine, even after soaking in lemon water, tasted fishy. mybe i need to try this brand.i love how you put the green beans in a circle around the pasta, very pretty! vegnews should call you:)

    lemon cucumber? thats different! and lavender sounds really nice:) good job Rebecca!

  6. The fettuccine dish looks really yum, and the rhubarb 'beer' at least has a great colour! And those seeds looks really lovely, I have never thought of growing lavender from seeds!


  7. Even though Kelp and Chap Chae has the similarity on its appearance. Still I prefer Kelp, for it’s nutrient-dense, full of minerals, high in calcium, and ridiculously low in calories.

  8. I really never cared about trying kelp noodles until now. Now, I must find them after reading your post. :o)

    Your cream sauce sounds great. I must try it when I get some more raw cashews.

    The seed swap sounds like fun!

  9. Lovely presentation of Easter dinner. I see you brought out the good crystal and the salad in the background looks so fresh. Did you French the Green Beans yourself?

  10. Hey everyone, thanks for your fun and awesome comments!

    Andrea: I have some shiritake in the fridge too...haven't tried them yet though, and I definitely want to get a spiralizer thing to do fun zucchini noodles...and daikon noodles, yum!

    I don't know if you want to swig this really is more like sugar water than honestly didn't turn out well enough for me to want to push on others...:D, but we should get together...maybe a walk at Greenlake sometime, since we both live nearby?

    Michelle: These noodles aren't fishy at all...if anything, they taste a little bit like plastic, from the packaging I guess, but that goes away when you rinse them and put dressing on! I love the seeds Rebecca sent! BTW: you were my seed swap person...did you get the seeds I sent out to you?

    Alessandra: The color is the best thing about the rhubarb beer for sure: I've never grown lavender from seed either, so it'll be a new gardening experience for me.

    Organic Food: I've never heard of Chap Chae...I'll have to check it out.

    Shen: The good crystal and matching dishes are because we were at my mom's place; she's civilised like that, at our place...well you know, it's paper napkins and drinking out of mason jars! I did french cut the beans; it's really easy and sort of fun! I've always liked french cut green beans best. :)

  11. I'm so impressed to read that you french-cut your own green beans. I always liked those best, until at some point I developed severe distaste for can. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I always think I can taste the can ... like you mentioned about the plasticky noodles. I'll have to cut my own sometime.

    The mead looks pretty with the cucumber slice.

  12. The kelp noodles look interesting. I haven't seen them, but maybe in a Chinese shop? I'll look!

    I love the sound of the cashew sauce. I'm definitely going to try that!

    And rhubarb mead? Our allotment is HOACHING with rhubarb. I'll pass this idea on to the Head Brewer (DH) and see what he thinks. (I normally use it for crumble...)

  13. Good idea. As soon as the sun comes out. :D

  14. Jessica:

    I know what you mean about tasting the can. I get that with tomatoes sometimes. French cut beans just taste better don't they?


    Baked goods with rhubarb are always lovely, but I bet your head brewer could come up with something special too. :D

    Andrea: long will that be, I wonder? :D

  15. I'm so glad to hear your opinion of the kelp noodles. Like you, a strong seaweed flavor is gag-worthy to me. Actually, just the smell of dulse flakes in my cabinets is too much. So while I've been interested in trying kelp noodles, I felt like there was no point in trying if they were going to taste too ocean-y. After hearing your thoughts, I look forward to trying them the next time I see them in a grocery store.

    Your cashew-basil cream sauce sounds so delicious! I've been crazy about raw cashews lately. They're like the magician of nuts. They can do anything! The rhubarb mead looks so refreshing! It would be perfect on a hot summer day!

  16. Cadry:

    The kelp noodles are really innocuous...I really like the texture. Perhaps all kelp noodles are not created equal though, so make sure you see those words: "neutral flavor". :D

  17. Hey Rose, your Easter sounds wonderful! I could have certainly gone for some strawberry pie!
    I've seen kelp noodles before and I like the way you made them. There are a few other ways of eating them that I've seen on Choosing Raw.
    Interesting about the rhubarb mead - I think after all that work, I'd like it a bit stronger too ;)

  18. Now that I think about it, I don't know if I like the taste of sea vegetables - or if it's just that I enjoy the idea of them and the health benefit. Because I was going to say I love all sea vegetables, then I wondered if I really do??? My husband isn't a big fan, because of the "fishy" thing - but I don't really know what that means? Is it the taste or smell of fish? I don't think I've ever eaten fish so maybe that's why it doesn't bother me? Not sure. I think I would like the kelp noodles, though, even if they are rubbery. I particularly like it when I make pasta and some of it sticks together in a clump; I always pick the clump out to eat it. (I mean, I'm sure you never have a clump.:) )

    Your Easter meal does look lovely, as I would have expected nothing less.

  19. Maud: I don't think there's enough strawberry pie in the world! :D

    I'll have to check out Choosing Raw to find out more ways to eat the kelp noodles!

    Jenny: Yeah, it's difficult to describe the taste of strong seaweed...I wouldn't call it fishy as much as "oceany"...have you ever got a big gulp of ocean water while at the beach by accident: it tastes awful. And I think you're right about the clumping and the texture, thats the best thing about these noodles in my opinion. :)

  20. Everything looks fresh and delicious! Nice work on those noodles!

  21. Rose I was so happy to see you use those kelp noodles. I always see those noodles and am tempted to try. I will now!

    Your easter fettucine meal is beautiful and looks the spring time! I think I shall try that too.

  22. JoLynn: the kelp noodles are fun; I like really vinegar'y things, so I've started marinating them in some vinegar for a while before tossing them into salads...:)

  23. I'm glad you tried the mead. If you want something a little (!) stronger try this recipe from the BBC which is calling to me.

  24. Catofstripes:

    The mead is a lovely refreshing drink, and I love the color! That rhubarb schnapps is tempting...thanks for the link.

  25. All your food looks good as usual. I personally like the occasional rubbery and toothsome meal - makes you feel like you're really eatin' sometin'!

  26. BlessedMama: Yeah, I'm with you on the eatin' somethin' theory! I just tried some shiritake noodles, which were even better, so I hope to post about those next.

  27. Wow amazing.Very lovely presentation i like this.Thanks for sharing with us such a nice information.
    Sea Kelp


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