Kelp Noodles with Creamy Arugula Herb Sauce (vegan & grain free)

As a pasta lover, the discovery of kelp noodles has been a game changer for me. Let’s be honest. It’s REALLY tough to find a decent grain-free substitute for any kind of pasta. Kelp noodles however, is as close as it gets. At least for a healthy substitute for a noodle-like pasta. And what is kelp noodles you ask? They are a thin, almost translucent noodle made from kelp, a seaweed grown in deep waters. Traditionally used in Asian cuisine, they can be found at most grocery stores, or even on amazon. AND they are free of fat, gluten and cholesterol while still being rich in calcium, iron and Vitamin K at only 6 calories per 4 ounces! SAY WHAT!?

This is a photo of kelp noodles right out of the package after being rinsed. Try it, and it has a slightly crunchy, flavorless taste. Meh…no thanks. BUT the number one trick to making kelp noodles work, is by soaking them in hot water, lemon and lots of salt. Wait 30 minutes and Voilà! The constancy transforms to a slurpy, soft noodle. Since there’s basically zero calories in the noodles, you can indulge in your sauce. A blank canvas to pasta possibilities! Lo mein, Pad Thai, Pesto Pasta, Cacio e pepe, chicken noodle soup….must I go on? One of my favorite kelp noodle recipes is with a creamy cashew-based vegan sauce with lots of fresh, bright herbs. In this case, arugula, basil and mint.

1 package of kelp noodles
The juice of 1 lemon
2 TBS of salt
Hot water to cover noddles

Cashew arugula herb sauce:
1 cup of raw cashews soaked (overnight, or 2 hours with boiling water)
1 cup of filtered water
1/2 juice of a lemon
1.5 TBS of nutritional yeast
1 TBS of olive oil (or feeling exotic, truffle oil)
2 handfuls of fresh arugual
2 handfuls of fresh herbs of choice (favorites are a mixture of basil, mint, parsely)
Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup of sliced cherry tomatoes
2 cups of fresh arugula or spinach
1 shallot, thinly sliced

Start by rinsing kelp noodles in a colander under warm water. Add to a large bowl of hot water, 2 tablespoons of salt, and the juice of one lemon. Make sure the noodles are fully covered. Wait until 30 minutes and soft/slurpy to taste. If you want them softer, (as in they are still crunchy, soak them longer).

While the noodles are soaking, make your cashew sauce. Using a high speed blender, add the soaked cashews and all other sauce ingredients. Blend on “puree” or high mode until smoothed. It should be a bright green color if you added enough arugula and herbs. Perfect flavors for Spring! Taste the sauce and adjust accordingly with salt/pepper, more herbs, etc. I find that mint is a real shining star in this sauce. It adds a beautiful bright flavor that mixes perfectly with the creamy constancy. (Note: the sauce will thicken after cooled in the fridge, and even more the next day. There should be plenty leftovers. Use as an awesome salad dressing, sauce for fish tacos, burgers, sandwiches…really on whatever. It extremely versatile and delicious.

Toppings! I love keeping this one simple with roasted or charred tomatoes, fresh greens and thinly sliced shallots. I’ve also added exotic mushrooms and peas to the mix. Top with whatever you want! Shrimp, chicken, etc. For this recipe, sauté the sliced tomatoes and shallot in a medium skillet with olive oil and a little salt. Add the arugula and cook till just wilted. Add your soften kelp noodles and spoon in the cashew sauce. I usually do about 3 tablespoons of the sauce, but adjust to your liking. Mix well and serve! (Note: I actually LOVE this dish cold. I find it so delicious the next day after the sauce thickens and becomes a refreshing, savory noodle salad. It’s also equally yummy hot. Just a personal preference).

No guilt, and ENJOY!

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