The Best Weeknight Summer Dinner: Cold Noodle Bowls

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

What’s better than a steaming bowl of rice or quinoa, tossed with vegetables and a bit of chicken? Grain bowls are the one-bowl meals that have it all — whole grains, veggies, and protein — and feel both wholesome and satisfying at the same time.

But this time of year a hot bowl of quinoa isn’t what you want in your mouth. All this heat and humidity calls for something just as practical, but a lot cooler: the cold noodle bowl.

The Noodle Bowl Advantage

Cold noodle bowls are equally as hearty as grain bowls, but because they’re cold, they’re more enjoyable to dig into during these sticky summer months. They also don’t require much heat to assemble them aside from boiling the noodles and perhaps quickly cooking up a chicken breast or two.

Do these stovetop preparations in the late evening, when the heat breaks, then toss everything together and tuck it into your fridge. Pull it out for lunch and dinner throughout the week and you won’t have to sweat to get a satisfying meal on the table.

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

Inspiration for Mix-and-Match Noodle Bowls

Like grain bowls, the possibilities for cold noodle bowls are nearly endless.

  • The noodles: Try everything from chewy Japanese buckwheat soba noodles to Chinese egg noodles to even simply a box of spaghetti.
  • The sauce: A creamy peanut sesame sauce keeps the noodles feeling luxurious and rich even when cold, but a lighter vinegar-based sauce is great too.
  • The vegetables: Toss in whatever raw veggies you may have on hand, be it sliced cucumbers, shaved carrots, or chopped bell peppers.
  • The protein: It’s satisfying just like this, but to boost the protein, finish the bowl with sliced chicken, sliced steak, or cubes of crispy tofu.

You can get back to grain bowls in the fall — for now, keep cool with noodle bowls.

Get 10 Noodle Bowl Recipes: Cold Noodles for Hot Days: 10 Recipes

What are some noodle bowl combinations you like to make?