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.

This challenge was easier than last month’s, which involved baking bread and making pâté. I decided to make cashew butter, which forms the basis of the dressing for one of the challenge recipes, Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing.

Cashew butter couldn’t be easier to make – just process a cup of roasted unsalted cashews in the food processor until a spreadable paste or butter is formed. It takes 2-3 minutes.

The cashew dressing, which is like a peanut dressing for satay, is delicious. This recipe makes loads more than you will need for the salad, so plan your menus accordingly!

The Asian Noodle Salad is perfect for a summer lunch or light dinner. Cooked noodles are drained, cooled and tossed with cucumber, red pepper, scallions, basil and cooked shrimp. I grilled the shrimp and used a blend of regular and Thai basil. Delicious!

Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew 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. You can omit the shrimp, or substitute chicken or tofu or the protein of your choice. The dressing is equally good with peanut butter.

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

½ pound (225 g) linguine or thin rice noodles

1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil

½ 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

¼ cup (60 ml) sliced green onions

¼ cup (60 ml) chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped cashews (optional garnish)

Lime wedges (optional)


Make cashew butter: Grind cashews in food processor for about 2 minutes until smooth. (*or start with ½ cup (120 ml) prepared cashew butter.)

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.

Prepare noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Rinse and drain noodles. Set aside.

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. You can also grill the shrimp, about 2-3 minutes per side, until done.

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’d like. Scatter shrimp on top. Squeeze fresh lime juice over salad or serve with lime wedges. Sprinkle with chopped cashews if desired.