This yummy Spicy Thai Spaghetti Salad is an delicious twist on a potluck classic ~ quick to prepare using common ingredients, the Asian flavors in this colorful pasta salad really pop. This easy summer side salad recipe will be your go to for barbecues this season!
I get some of my best recipe ideas from the deli counter at my favorite market. They make surprisingly good salads and we like to pick 2 or 3 and call it dinner during the summer months when it’s too hot and sticky to cook. I chose three last week and I loved them so much I’m recreating each one for the blog. This Thai spaghetti salad is a twist on a potluck staple, spaghetti salad.
Prepared salads are usually easy to copy because they usually have their ingredients printed right on the label of the container. By law they have to list the ingredients in descending order of the amount used. I just used the label on my saved plastic container to build this wonderful spicy Thai spaghetti salad, starting with the pasta, red cabbage, and carrots, right through to the cayenne pepper and peanuts. It was fun, and it turned out perfect.
This is a useful salad to have on hand for potlucks and barbecues because it’s hearty, colorful, and can be made ahead of time, the flavors actually benefit from a little time in the fridge. It’s an economical way to feed a crowd, and there’s no mayo to spoil outdoors, either. The Thai flavors make it unique.
The Thai inspired flavors meld together perfectly, and none of them are unusual or hard to find. You’ll use regular spaghetti for the noodles, and for the peanut dressing you’ll use rice vinegar, regular peanut butter like Jiff, oil, garlic, and cayenne pepper. The result is a tangy dressing with just the right amount of peanut butter flavor without being overpowering.
Fresh basil and cilantro are essential for this salad, so make sure you have some on hand. Better yet, buy small herb plants at your local nursery and keep them on the windowsill or back porch so you’ll always have fresh herbs available.
Classic summer potluck salads are some of the best eating out there…the most successful ones are sturdy, have mass appeal, and can be made ahead ~
- Cowboy Caviar
- Mediterranean Bean Salad
- Dill Pickle Potato Salad
- Layered Rainbow Salad
- Meat Lovers Pasta Salad
- Pasta Salad with Tuna
Tips for making this spicy Thai spaghetti salad ~
For best texture, shred your carrots in your food processor fitted with the shredding blade. A box grater can make wet and mushy shreds.
I sliced my red cabbage on my mandoline slicer set on the 1/8 inch setting. This results in longer, fine shreds that retain their texture.
Use regular spaghetti, not the thin or thick style. Thin spaghetti can become mushy, and thick will overpower the veggies.
- 8 ounces of regular spaghetti, broken in half, cooked in plenty of salted water to al dente and rinsed well with cold water
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- 1 bunch (about 6-8) green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
- 2 Tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 handful cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 handful basil leaves, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 heaping Tbsp smooth peanut butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt to taste
- To make the dressing put all the ingredients in a small bowl and use an immersion blender to process into an emulsified dressing. Thin with more oil or vinegar to taste, if necessary.
- Put the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with the dressing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Make it your own ~
- Make it a main course ~ add chunks of chicken, tender steak, or grilled shrimp.
- Make it gluten/grain free ~ try this with zucchini noodles (spiralized zucchini) or spaghetti squash.
- Make it even healthier ~ add more shredded veggies like broccoli, zucchini, or kale.
- Make it with more veggies ~ try frozen and thawed edamame beans, broccoli, or bok choy, snap peas, or green beans.