Peanut and nut free, vegan, and gluten free, this Thai noodle salad is the perfect cool salad on a hot summer day. It's loaded with vegetables and fresh herbs, then topped with a creamy, yet tangy, sunflower seed butter that's a substitute for "peanut" sauce. You'll love this allergy and migraine-friendly salad!
The Best Sunbutter Search
Sometimes I'll get comments about how someone hates sunflower seed butter and my first question is "how many have you tried?". Everyone has their favorite peanut butter, right? Some people like a smooth and creamy Skippy, while others are all about the chunky. And then there's the super healthy peanut butter your mom pushed at you while you were growing up that was mixed with chia or tasted like earth. And you'd watch your other 13 year old friends with their delicious Skippy sandwiches and be so jealous. Clearly this never happened to me. Clearly.
It's the same with sunflower seed butters. Some are salted and super creamy. Others are creamy and a little sweet, but not salted at all. Some are chunky. And others taste that the crappy healthy peanut butter mentioned above...but worse. It all comes down to personal preference, and what I like you may totally hate. But I'm going to give you some recommendations anyway.
Sunflower Seed Butter Ranking
Here's my very personal rankings from best to worst:
1. Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Spread (Yellow/Green Container) - This one is slightly salted (100mg) with no added sugar and my personal favorite. I literally eat it by the spoonfuls as a quick "breakfast" before a workout when I don't want to eat a full meal. It tastes like salted, toasted sunflower seeds to me.
2. Sunbutter Organic - Sugar and salt free, yet super creamy and still has a hint of sweetness. I find this one best for baking and using in dessert recipes. It has zero sodium so you may need added salt when cooking. Because it doesn't have salt, I find it less appealing for snacking, but I love savory things.
3. Trader Joe's Sunflower Seed Butter (Yellow/ Blue Container ) - Pinch of Yum claims this one is the best. To me, it's a little sweet. But it does seem to be a fan favorite.
4. Sunbutter No Sugar Added - This one is slightly salted (130mg) and similar to Trader Joe's. I prefer that TJ's has less sodium, but a lot of people really enjoy this one.
5. Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter Sugar & Salt Free - This is the one that tastes like a health food store. My mom loves it.
Those are all the flavors I've tried so far. If you have any favorites that I didn't mention, or want to argue with me on my picks, just comment below.
Since this Thai noodle salad recipe doesn't use citrus juices, making it migraine diet safe, I love using pomegranate juice or tart cherry juice for the sauce. Even if you have no interest in a migraine diet, this is a change I encourage you to try! It adds the perfect amount of tangy flavor without it being too sweet and is a great way to mix up your traditional lime juice recipe. I used Trader Joe's Tart Cherry Juice for this recipe, but one without added sugar is fine.
For the rice noodles, I used these gluten free noodles. And I love to use the Pretty Thai Sweet Chili Sauce on the side.
Thai Noodle Salad with Faux "Peanut" Sauce
For the salad
- 8 oz pad thai rice noodles
- 1 ½ cups cabbage slaw mix
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 2 green onions, chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup basil, chopped
- ½ watermelon radish, or 2-3 small red radish, cut into strips
For the sunflower seed dressing
- ¼ cup sunflower seed butter
- ¼ cup unsweetened pomegranate or tart cherry juice
- 2-3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons coconut aminos
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
- 1 minced garlic clove
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- sriracha or sweet chili sauce to taste (optional)
- Cook the rice noodles according to package directions, drain, and run under cool water to cool down. If the noodles are sticking together, add a tiny bit of sesame oil and toss them in it.
- While you're waiting for the noodles to cook, add the sunflower seed butter, juice, vinegar, coconut aminos, sesame oil, honey, ginger, and garlic to a food processor. Blend until totally smooth and creamy. Taste and add kosher salt and pepper, as needed. (This will vary as some sunflower seed butters are more salty or sweet than others). Set aside to let the flavors meld together, about 30 minutes.
- Place the cooled noodles in a large bowl with slaw, chopped bell pepper, cilantro, basil, and radish. Chill everything for 30 minutes while you wait for the dressing to develop some flavor. Then add the dressing a little bit at a time, tossing everything together until it's dressed to your liking (you may have some leftover). Serve cold with sriracha and/or sweet chili sauce on the side.
- This salad will keep in the fridge for 2 days.