Cooking Classes


Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing

The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

I didn't begin the challenge until well into the month.  I had a limited selection of nuts locally so I went online and found a wonderful place in the U.S. that will ship to Canada - Nuts Online.  I got so excited and ordered more than I needed for this challenge alone.

I bought some marcona almonds, because I love them!  Roast or fry them with a little olive oil and  a sprinkle of sea salt and they are a wonderful with a cocktail or a cheese tray.  I also wanted to try the almond flour and had to purchase a whopping 5 pound bag!  I guess I will be making a few macarons and I would like to try some other cookies or cakes with it.

I bought raw nuts because I can fresh roast them as I need them.  I think the flavour is better.  I made the cashew nut butter for the recipe below.  I cannot post everything today because you would just keep reading and reading or...not!  Over the next few days I will share other recipes with other nut butters.  Today it is cashew butter.  Please read on! 

  • The process for making various types of nut butters is essentially the same. Pour nuts into bowl of food processor. Grind the nuts in the processor until they form a paste or butter. The nuts first turn into powdery or grainy bits, then start to clump and pull away from the side of the bowl, and finally form a paste or butter. The total time required depends on the fat and moisture content of the nuts; grinding time will vary from roughly 1 to 4 minutes (assuming a starting volume of 1 to 2 cups [240 to 480 ml] nuts). Processing times for a variety of nuts are described below.
  • You may add oil as desired during grinding to make the nut butter smoother and creamier or to facilitate grinding. Add oil in small increments, by the teaspoon for oily nuts like cashews or by the tablespoon for dryer/harder nuts like almonds. You may use the corresponding nut oil or a neutral vegetable oil like canola.
  • The inclusion of salt in the nut butters is optional and to taste. If you make nut butters from salted nuts, peanuts or cashews for example, you will not need additional salt. We recommend making unsalted nut butters for use in the challenge recipes (and other savory recipes) since the recipes call for salt or salty ingredients. You can then adjust the salt to taste. If you are making nut butter for use as a spread, you should add salt according to your preference.
  • Roasting the nuts before making nut butters is optional according to your preference. To roast nuts in the oven, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4). Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until nuts are fragrant and a shade darker in color. Allow nuts to cool before grinding. Roasted nuts will make butter with darker color than raw nuts.
  • It’s helpful to keep in mind that the yield of nut butter is about half the original volume of nuts. If you start with 1 cup nuts, you’ll get about ½ cup nut butter.
  • The consistency of nut butters varies from thin & soft (almost pourable) to very thick and hard depending on the fat content of the nut. (See links below for nutrition info on variety of nuts.) Homemade nut butters will probably not be as smooth as commercial products.
  • Homemade nut butters are more perishable than commercial products and should be stored in the refrigerator. The nut butters harden & thicken somewhat upon chilling. 

    • Almonds: form a thick butter in about 2 to 3 minutes for slivered almonds, or 3 to 4 minutes for whole almonds; the skin of whole almonds will leave dark flecks in the butter
    • Cashews: form a smooth, spreadable butter after about 2 minutes of processing
    • Hazelnuts: form a firm, thick, and grainy butter in about 2 to 3 minutes; to remove the skin from whole hazelnuts, roast in a 400 degree F oven (200 degrees C/Gas Mark 6) for about 5 minutes or till skins loosen, then rub hazelnuts in a clean dishtowel to remove some of the skin; the remaining skin will leave dark flecks in the butter
    • Macadamias: form a soft and smooth butter in about 2 minutes
    • Peanuts: form a thick, grainy butter in about 2 or 3 minutes
    • Pecans: form a very soft, oily, pourable butter in 1 or 2 minutes; the skins give pecan butter a slightly tannic and bitter flavor
    • Walnuts: form a very soft, oily, pourable butter in 1 or 2 minutes; the skins give walnut butter a slightly tannic and bitter flavor
    • Pistachios: According to the Nut Butter Primer from Cooking Light, pistachio butter is dry and crumbly with a tendency to clump during processing; they recommend combining it with softened cream cheese for easy spreading and report a processing time of 3.5 to 4 minutes. Please note, we did not test pistachio butter.
    Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew (or Peanut) Dressing
    Yield: 4 servings
    Recipe notes: Customize the salad by adding or substituting your favorite vegetables. Shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, and slivered carrots would make nice additions. Obviously, you can omit the shrimp, or substitute chicken or tofu or the protein of your choice. The dressing is equally as good with peanut butter rather than cashew butter. We tested the dressing with nut butters made from salted cashews & peanuts with good results.

    Cashew Butter:
    1 cup (240 ml) cashews*
    Cashew Dressing:
    ½ inch (1 cm) slice of fresh ginger, chopped
    8 cloves garlic, more or less to taste, chopped
    ½ cup (120 ml) cashew butter
    ¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
    3 Tablespoons (45 ml) sugar
    3 Tablespoons (45 ml) vinegar
    3 Tablespoons (45 ml) toasted sesame oil
    ¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (75 ml) water
    Hot sauce to taste (optional)
    Noodle Salad:
    1/2 pound (225 g) linguine or thin rice noodles
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
    1/2 pound (225 g) small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
    1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into thin strips
    1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced
    1/4 cup (60 ml) sliced green onions
    1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh basil
    1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped cashews (optional garnish)
    Lime wedges (optional)
    1. Make cashew butter: Grind cashews in food processor for about 2 minutes until smooth. (*Or start with ½ cup (120 ml) prepared cashew butter.)
    2. Prepare cashew dressing: Combine ginger, garlic, cashew butter, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and water in food processor or blender. Process/blend until smooth. Be sure to process long enough to puree the ginger and garlic. The dressing should be pourable, about the same thickness as cream. Adjust consistency – thinner or thicker -- to your liking by adding more water or cashew butter. Taste and add your favorite hot sauce if desired. (If the cashew butter was unsalted, you may want to add salt to taste.) Makes about 1 ½ cups (360 ml) dressing. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator.
    3. Prepare noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Rinse and drain noodles. Set aside.
    4. Heat oil in large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add shrimp to the pan and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes or until opaque throughout. Alternately, cook shrimp in boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes or until done.
    5. Slice basil into thin ribbons. Combine noodles, bell pepper, cucumber, onions, and basil in a large bowl. Add about ½ cup (120 ml) cashew dressing; toss gently to coat. Add more cashew dressing as desired, using as much or as little as you like. Scatter shrimp on top. Squeeze fresh lime juice over salad or serve with lime wedges. Sprinkle with chopped cashews if desired.


      1. Adorabile sia la ricetta che la foto, prendo l'idea molto volentieri e grazie :)

      2. All of your photos look gorgeous!! Did you add any oil to your cashew butter? It looks wonderfully spreadable! I look forward to your future nut butter posts. Great job on the challenge!

      3. Looks like we are both in sync today and thinking shrimp:D

      4. Interesting to giv a try...!
        Hope to see you often here..!

      5. This looks so delish! I am going to make it!

      6. Everything looks wonderful Sarah. Amazing how the internet makes the world feel so small. I used to order nuts from the "Nutman" in Calgary but I'm not sure that he's still around as it many moons ago.

      7. Glad you pointed out out there is nuts besides peanuts that can make excellent spreads...

      8. I've made peanut butter from the nuts, but then I have to buy extra nuts, because I'll just snack on them. It's a problem. Your salad looks great, and I'm glad you didn't suffer the "I'm eating all these nuts now!" problem as I do.

      9. This is a perfect summer dish. Well done with the dressing!

      10. Wow. That butter looks so simple to make. If only I were a fan of nuts, I would make this. It looks great!

      11. Stefania> grazie

        outofheaven> I added 1/2 tsp of olive oil to the cup of cashews. It was very firm but I was ok with that.

        Valli> I was thinking the same thing!

        Jay> thx!

        Angie> you will love it!

        June> you ordered nuts from the Nutman! It is such a small world.

        buffalo> I am just as bad as the next person for not fully utilizing nuts.

        Marjie> for some reason I am not tempted. I guess my bag of salted in the shell pistachios keeps me away from the cooking nuts.

        Hungry> yes it is! Thx.

        Memoria> too bad you don't like nuts. It is a concept that I cannot relate to!

      12. Wow! Everything in your blog looks so delicious! Passion is written all over it. You love what you do and I look forward to following! Thanks for your comment today:)


      13. Your photos are stunning and the Asian sauce looks and sounds exquisite well done on this challenge. That photo of the salad is amazing. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

      14. Well done! We look forward to reading your follow ups. We'll have to find a clever place to keep your 'tips' regarding the making of the nut butter in general.
        Stay JOLLY!

      15. Loved the way you worked this challenge. Everything seems so good!


      I appreciate your comment! Please visit often.