Some people use drugs to activate their dopamine reward system.

Cocaine.  Heroin.  Morphine.

And the way it works is that they sneak into the ventral tegmental area of your brain.  Setting off axons left and right.

Whispering.  Provocatively.  Go.

And the VTA, unable to fight back against their undeniable prowess.  Well. It listens.

It spews forth dopamine so fast that it completely overwhelms your nucleus accumbens, propelling it and you into a state of euphoria.  Really cementing that resulting positive reinforcement, causing your limbic system to say this.  This is what I want.  All day.  Every day.  Ever.  And anon.

And there you have it.  Addiction.  


The hallucinogenic drugs – LSD, PCP, acid.  They don’t activate your dopamine system.  Instead, they work on your serotinin receptors to alter your perception of reality.

And honestly, when your reality is such that you have three exams in one week.  There’s very little you can do to alter your perception in any positive way.

Besides.  No dopamine.  No addiction.  No reward.

And really, where’s the fun in that?


So you need to find other ways to get your fix.  To set your VTA atwitter and your nucleus accumbens on fire.

For me, that way is nut butters.

There’s something about the high fat content that sends dopamine coursing through my veins, activating every reward circuit in my body.  Such that after one spoonful, I feel high as a kite.  Euphoric.  Psychedelic.  Satiated.  Incandescent.

And so I keep going back.  Jar after jar.  Bowl after bowl of this Asian noodle salad with cashew dressing.  What can I say?  A girl’s gotta get a hit somehow.  And it doesn’t hurt that this pasta, which is rife with ginger and garlic and all things good in this world.  It will have you begging for more.


Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing
Serves 4, adapted from Living in the Kitchen With Puppies 

1/2 inch fresh ginger, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup cashew butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup water
hot sauce to taste
1/2 lb thin rice noodles
1 tbsp olive oil
1 box tofu, pressed and sliced
2 small/medium zucchini, sliced into half moons
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup scallions, sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
lime wedges (optional)

1. Combine ginger, garlic, cashew butter, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and water in a food processor and process until completely blended and smooth.  Adjust consistency by adding more water or cashew butter (thinner v. thicker, respectively).  Taste and add your favorite hot sauce, if desired.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups dressing.

2. Set a pot of water to boil for the noodles.

3. In a large nonstick skillet, heat one tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the tofu strips and saute until lightly brown, turning 2-3 minutes.  Add the red bell pepper and zucchini to the pan.  Saute for about 7 minutes or until the veggies are cooked to desired degree of doneness.

4. When the water is boiling, add the rice noodles to it and cook for 2 minutes.  Strain.  In a large bowl, combine the noodles, veggies, cashew dressing, scallions and basil.  Mix well.  Add salt to taste.  Serve with a lime wedge and squeeze over the pasta before eating, if desired.

I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted this week by Helen of Fuss Free Flavors, the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, and also to Souper Sundays, which is hosted over at Kahakai Kitchen.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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105 Responses to Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing (Vegan)

  1. I get my high from food too–especially Asian offerings. If I had to settle on one cuisine for the rest of my life, I’m pretty sure it would be Thai. I could eat it twice a day–same as if I were Thai! I cautiously introduced my sweet southern mother to it a few years back and…..she loved it! It almost replaced fried chicken in her culinary life.

    Thanks for the perfect “prescription”–would that be bid or tid?


  2. girlichef says:

    Can I get a big hit of that!? Looks awesome 😀 Thanks for sharing a bit of your chronic w/ the hearth and soul hop this week…always jonesin’ for more of your good stuff 😉

  3. I love nut butters too. It’s simply yummy! This noodle salad sounds delicious. It will surely have be going back for seconds.

  4. I need nut butter rehab’ too! For me it is almond butter! let’s consider it is high in some good nutriments and forget about the fat…
    The noodle salad look perfect!

  5. janet says:

    Beautiful! This looks right up my alley, Joanne! I have been using nut butter more often as well for savoury cooking. 🙂

    Good luck with your exams!

  6. aipi says:

    Wow! This salad is so pretty…and I just love the sound of all of the ingredients together…YUM 🙂

    US Masala

  7. If I had this noodle salad one time – I would surly be hooked! Ginger, garlic, sesame, soy…etc. Cashew Butter -stop it already! Looks out of this world! <-- do people still say that?

  8. I have tried so may salads like this only to be disappointed b/c I, too, am addicted to these flavors. This one looks out of this world (yes, people do still say that :)!

  9. That Girl says:

    There’s something about nut butters and noodles that is simply transportive

  10. bleeb129 says:

    would probably sub chicken for the tofu but looks really yummy

  11. Shannon says:

    This is a dish of all of my favorite things. I need to try cashew butter. Have you ever made your own?

  12. Faith says:

    This is one addiction I could get caught up in! Great use for cashew butter, which is something I love but really don’t use often enough!

  13. Marisa says:

    After the Daring Cook’s challenge a few months ago for nutbutters, I have been wanting to try out some recipes featuring them, so yeah, I’m definitely bookmarking this and I’m definitely trying it out SOON.

  14. No wonder I love nuts so much, especially cashews but I will not put my hose up at a hazelnut, pecan, almond, or walnut either. And pistachios! What a delicious salad, Joanne! I would love some for lunch today.

  15. Kristen says:

    You and I could sit in a dark alley with our jars of nut butters. I am totally addicted to them, too. Of course, I choose to not buy or make them for that very reason. Jar after jar usually translates to pound after pound on this non running momma.

  16. Rachana says:

    This is such a delicious dish. I need to try cashew butter…

  17. Eliana says:

    Hmmm – I would welcome a hit of this anytime baby!

  18. This delicious looking salad would sure make a nice lunch. I like the idea of cashew dressing.

  19. This looks so delish. I make a lot of peanut noodles, but haven’t made a cashew dish yet.

    Now, it is 10:21 am and I’m hungry for lunch. Thanks a lot!

    🙂 Laura

  20. Tasha says:

    Everything about this recipe sounds awesome. How sad I’m missing a lot of these ingredients, because if I had them on hand this would be tonight’s dinner.

  21. Victoria says:

    I love Asian noodle salads!! I usually use peanut butter in mine, but cashew butter sounds like an awesome twist! 🙂

  22. elra says:

    Mmmmh, you had me on that cashew dressing Joanne. I am sure it is delicious.

  23. Dan says:

    that looks sooooo tasty, however, that amount of raw garlic frightens me. Does the soy and other dressing ingredients “pickle” the garlic?

    I’ve had garlic seeping from my pores in previous kitchen disasters. Just don’t ask.

  24. Mo Diva says:

    I have been in a very noodley mood.
    I say this as i eat the banana that I so wish was a bowl of noodles.

  25. I know there is somethin really amazing about the kick that nuts give.Maybe the crunch or the varied texture it lends to the dish!My hubs always orders cashew chicken in any asian restaurant
    Your salad—-thumbs up 😛

  26. A very delicious Asian stir-fry! Cashew dressing sounds truly fantastic.

  27. gotnomilk says:

    Another one of your recipes bookmarked – looks fabulous.

  28. Dawn says:

    Would it be bad if I made this and licked the bowl? Maybe only if there was company right there.

  29. Sarah S. says:

    Good stuff! Also, I wish more food bloggers were med students 😉

  30. RamblingTart says:

    I am so delighted by this recipe, Joanne. 🙂 I crave noodles something fierce and am a fiend for nut butters too!! Brrr, I’m so cold today I’d have heat it up though. 🙂

  31. Katerina says:

    This salad is a lot different than the ones I eat lately for the sake of diet. I am bookmarking this for when i complete my program.

  32. What a great way to get your nut butter “fix”! Even though I’m very much a meat eater, I love tofu and am always trying to find dishes with it that my bf will love to… Perhaps i’ll try this one 🙂


  33. Ann says:

    Oh my! This looks so good! i also hopped over to Natashya’s blog and saw that the cashew nut butter is something that can be made at home – double wow!

  34. Maria says:

    *blush* I’ve never used nut butters in my cooking! This recipe sounds delicious though, so I must fix this lack of nut butters in my household asap!

  35. Swathi says:

    This noodle salad looks delicious. I always love the flavor of Cashew in everything. This one is my kind of salad.

  36. Ruth Daniels says:

    My personal addiction… your gorgeous, funny & delicious posts. The pasta does look awesome. Thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  37. Shannon says:

    yes, can i have more?? this sounds awesome… hope you saved me some for dinner 🙂

  38. Kristin says:

    This looks amazing. I can see why you are addicted to it, I would be too.

  39. tigerfish says:

    I like your dressing for the noodle. That cashew butter made it so different!

  40. Marcia says:

    mmm…some of my very favorite things in one place. I have a lot of that on hand too! I don’t have cashew butter though, but I have cashews! Can make my own.

  41. Stella says:

    I never really thought about cocaine and nut butters as being in the same category, but, now that I think about it, I feel that you might be on to something (smile). Because this looks good…!

  42. naomi says:

    I love cashew butter. This dish looks great!

  43. Pam says:

    I like your kind of drug… the noodle salad is calling my name!!

  44. Whoa–that’s some smart medical talk. Of which I understand nothing.
    But the food looks great! =)

  45. Nelly says:

    Oh good LORD that looks amazing. I used to make a very, very scaled-down version of this in college that we called Peanut Butter Pasta, and even as unfancy as that was I still loved it. This looks divine!

  46. I can totally see how this would be addictive – would definitely have me begging for more, except for maybe the tofu which I would have to replace with maybe some shrimp or chicken ‘cos I just can’t do tofu 🙂

  47. Peggy says:

    My drug of choice is definite food, as well! This salad looks absolutely divine and it’s no surprise you’re addicted!

  48. Amy says:

    Pie, baby! I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and two snacks in between. But I get you on the nut butters – never met one I didn’t like.

    I think I’m also slightly addicted to Eats Well With Others…I couldn’t get over here as earlier as usual and I’ve been going through withdrawal. Glad I got my fix.

  49. Simply Life says:

    oh my gosh, I could inhale this and quickly be highly addicted! 🙂

  50. your description of addiction is super scientific but dead-on. true foodie, right here. this looks phenomenal. i haven’t made peanut-y pasta in forever – i’ve forgotten how much i love it. i’ll take a delivery to brooklyn, okay? 😉

  51. Kim says:

    I’m laughing over Heather’s comment. I want a hit too! Pass that bowl my way:) The cashew butter sounds addictive with all that garlic and ginger added it. This one would definitely have me going back for more and more….

  52. teresa says:

    oh wow, addicting indeed! and vegan to boot, you can’t go wrong!

  53. Alisa Cooks says:

    Oh how I share in your addiction! My day isn’t complete without a PB-banana smoothie and an asian cashew salad dressing … yes, you really nailed my cravings on this one. Must make this recipe!!!

  54. Julie says:

    This looks so delicious. Love the flavors!!

  55. Julie says:

    the way you feel about nut butters is the way i feel about goat cheese + balsamic hahahaha 🙂

  56. No drugs required Joanne, just give me some cashew butter.

  57. elpi says:

    Super tempting dish…

  58. sweetlife says:

    confession—I have five, yes five jars of nut butters in my pantry, my girls and I are addicted to them, we eat them by the spoonful and with noodles..oh heaven,


  59. Debbie says:

    What a gorgeous photo! Looks delicious. I have never used nut butters but will have to give them a try.

  60. Vivienne says:

    cashews! yummo! i make a similar dish but using ground sesame paste instead…guess that’s a bit different. ohh and peanut butter too..apparently goes well with noodles hehe. I’ve been eating peanut butter by the spoonfuls these days…healthy fat lol.

  61. Nicole, RD says:

    Sounds like cocaine too me…!! YUM! Addictive food is good food…save!

  62. Nut butters are perfect for your studying/running lifestyle! Thanks for the shout-out. Looks delish!

  63. Love the great plate. I’m sure I could get addicted to this fantastic meal too.

  64. Barbara says:

    I’m not a vegan (and don’t want to be either) but I am loving this salad, Joanne! I get the addition part, luckily not drugs, but food….same lunch every day!

  65. Nut butters are pretty addictive. This sounds great! Love nut butters with noodles.

  66. Lea Ann says:

    This salad looks wonderful. Another bookmarked.

  67. Raina says:

    Definitely a great way to get some dopamine going. I feel good just looking at it:)

    I am putting this in my favorites, since I still do not know how to bookmark….lol

  68. Looks delish. I just switched to cashew butter bc everyone keeps trying to scare me that eating peanut butter is going to cause the baby to be allergic. Sigh. There is WAY too much ‘scare the pregnant mom’ stuff out there.

  69. Maria says:

    I haven’t tried cashew butter, but now I have to! Looks great~

  70. ok, now apparently i have to go hunt down some cashew butter – that noodle salad looks divine!

  71. Sanjeeta kk says:

    Love this refreshing and healthy salad, Joanne. Beautiful click.

  72. kickpleat says:

    Yay, I love this kind of meal salad. So would like a bowl right this very minute.

  73. Mary says:

    Asian-Noodle-Salad. Those three words said it all. I’ll follow you anywhere. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  74. Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve had a biology lesson, and certainly not combined with a cooking lesson. Kind of a fun combo, actually. I might have done better in school if more lessons had been tied to a recipe 😉

  75. This came in at the right time. I was thinking of what to do with the rice noodles I bought. Great idea, thank you!

  76. claire says:

    cute dishes, where are those from?

  77. Elizabeth says:

    Cashew Nut Butter! It sounds so comforting, and what a beautiful dish. I’m hungry (I should never visit your blog at 3:15 PM, Joanne!). Must go to Trader Joe’s later for Cashew Nut Butter. Thanks!

  78. Monet says:

    I have a nut butter addiction too. So much so that I went grocery shopping at 11:30 the other night because we had run out of almond butter. This pasta dish looks amazing. A perfect “fix” for me. Thank you for sharing. I hope you have a beautiful day tomorrow!

  79. Chris says:

    The cashew dressing alone is good enough to make me want to try this, Joanne. But the rest of this rocks too! Well, except the tofu. I’d have to use a tofu substitute like pork:)

  80. stephen says:

    I am lucky to have mastered the act of turning anything negative to positive. Thanks for this recipe! so delicious and a positive way to enjoy the day lol drooling over it:)

  81. Little Inbox says:

    The cashew nut dressing sounds really yummy and nutritious.

  82. Reeni says:

    I want what you’re having! I love when you talk Dr. This definitely has addictive qualities to it! I can’t be trusted with cashew butter in the house. This I know. I will get out of a warm bed in the middle of a cold, dark night and eat and eat until it’s gone.

  83. Oh yes. This needs to be on my table right now! It doesn’t help that my stomach is already growling either.

    I’ll be on the Upper East Side from Monday to Thursday with dinner plans Monday and Wednesday night and interviews Tuesday and Thursday. What’s your availability looking like??

  84. Natalie says:

    cashew nut butter? yum!!!!! this whole meal looks, dare i say, perfect!

  85. sophia says:

    I get high off bacon. Completely opposite from this vegan dish, lol. I also get high off GOOD cheese, GOOD bread, and GOOD roasted veggies.

    Stay cool, Joanne! And how are you still cooking and blogging with such a crazy study schedule?

  86. Victor says:

    I love making stir-fry with these noodles! Great job!

  87. Beth says:

    That looks so good. I do love the flavor of cashews in cooking, and this one is incredibly tempting. How could anyone say no?

  88. Sophie says:

    What a delightful & healthy asian noodles salad this surely is!! Looks so festive too!

    MMMMM,..yummie food, Joanne!

  89. I could easily see an addiction forming to this! The cashew butter mixed into the noodles and veggies sounds delicious.

  90. Lori says:

    For me my addiction is obviously food. LAtely it has actually moved to quilting. And its a good thing. I hate the feeling of drugs. But I sure love my natural one- dopamine and also the endorphin rush after eating hot stuff. Oh I so love that.

    Meanwhile your asian salad here is amazing. Its calling to me. I love nut butters too. My favorites being cashew and hazelnut (as in Nutella).

  91. Jo jo…I simply want to smack you! LMAO!!!! please do not ruin my food desires by explaining how my tangential ho ha needs more VTA’s as for all that other stuff, simply not the way I remember it…but then again, I was a child of the 70’s!!!! YOU make me laugh so hard some days that my stomach hurts!

    On a side note, I just purchased some rice stick noodles and had not a clue how to use them. Gonna give this dish a try! BIG hugs you silly girl! Alex

  92. Johanna GGG says:

    I think this salad would do very nicely on the coming summer months – I understand your delights with nut butters – they are so delicious and after living with peanut butter all my life it is so exciting to find a whole range of nut butters

  93. Dana says:

    Yup. That is the kind of dish I want to make and eat every day. I don’t think I’ve added a nut butter directly to rice noodles, certainly not in a salad, and it’s time to try it. Why cashew and not peanut? Just curious.

  94. Now I wish you were vegetarian so you’d post amazing veggie recipes like this all the time ;p. I love pb noodles, so I know this would be an instant hit in my household.

  95. elpi says:

    Salad noodles sounds new to me.

  96. I’d love this for my lunch tomorrow. And the day after…etc…It looks so yum!

  97. Libby says:

    We can’t have nut butters in our house, but I think I see that sauce made with sunflower seed spread in my near future. It the fresh ginger and cashew sound amazing together.

  98. Debinhawaii says:

    This look exactly like what I am craving right now–if only there was a big bowl in my fridge right now. 😉 Thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays this week.

  99. Kerstin says:

    I make something similar with PB and love it – how this version has cashew butter – yum!

  100. Love nut butters too! And seed butters.

    Thanks for taking part in PPN.

    The round up is now finally up! Sorry for the delay!


  101. Cara says:

    I’m with you. There’s no such thing as too much nut butter. Especially thanks to all those studies that show that you don’t actually get fat from eating too much GOOD fats. It’s been far too long since I’ve enjoyed some noodles. I think this is going high on the list.

  102. Deborah says:

    Now I need to go get myself some cashew butter!

  103. i’d certainly love to have this…

  104. The dressing would work for a few things…chicken for sure. But for now, this vegan meal works!

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