Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Soba Noodles, They're What's for Dinner!

Yesterday for dinner I had one of my favorite quick and healthy meals. I treated myself to shopping trips at both Fresh Market and Whole Foods so although I had a wonderful and fresh assortment of groceries, I had little time to prepare dinner before essentially turning into a hungry bear.

Because of this, I turned to one of my favorite creations, a soba noodle salad with a tangy and sweet Asian dressing.

First, a discussion on soba noodles, which I heard of for the first time on one of my favorite food blogs, 101Cookbooks.com
    Soba Noodles are a Japanese noodle made from Buckwheat and Wheat flours and are about the same thickness as spaghetti. They can be found in many grocery stores in the ever-vague "Ethnic Aisle" or with the pasta. I have a strong affinity for Japanese food, so as soon as I heard about the noodles I ran out and bought some! My favorite vegetable is Bok Choy, a chinese cabbage that is kind of a cross between celery, without the strings, and a tougher Romaine lettuce. Naturally, my first thought was to combine these!

I often bring dinner to lunch at work the next day, so I thought if I could make a cold salad with these noodles, it would be ideal. I remembered a salad I made several years ago with baby bok choy, a small and more tender variety-great for eating raw. The dressing for the salad had Soy sauce, white vinegar, sugar, and olive oil-I specifically remember never making it again because I couldn't find baby bok choy and the dressing had been FAR too sweet.

Well, sauteing the larger, more common Bok Choy makes it quite juicy and tender, and taking some of the sugar out of the dressing made it FAR more palateable. After a couple attempts, here is my perfected version of...

Cold Soba Noodle Salad  4-6 servings

     3oz Dried Soba Noodles, broken in half
     1 Head Bok Choy, chopped to bite-size pieces and stalk separated from greens
     1 Tbsp Seasame Oil (or Olive oil if that's what you have)
     1c sugar snap peas
     1 Tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
     1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped into thin, 1/2"-long pieces
     1 Medium cucumber, seeded and chopped

          1/4c White Wine Vinegar
          1/4c Sugar
          3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
          1/2c Olive Oil

In a large saute pan, heat sesame (or olive) oil over med-high heat until hot, add Bok Choy stalk pieces and saute until pieces become tender about 5min. Add pieces of greens, seasame seeds, and snap peas and saute until greens wilt. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

I prepare the dressing while boiling water for the noodles.

For the dressing, I generally put all ingredients (vinegar, sugar, soy sauce, and olive oil) together in a medium container with a lid and shake them vigorously. I shake again right before tossing with the noodles and vegetables.

Prepare soba noodles as directed by packaging, often they direct you to place them in boiling water for 4 min. Immediately remove noodles from heat when they are finished and rinse with very cold water for about 1 min, make sure they are cool to the touch.

In a large bowl, toss red pepper, cucumber, sauted bok choy and snap peas, and noodles with dressing. You may serve immediately, I prefer my salad to be chilled when I eat it so I refrigerate for about a half hour before I eat it.

My Foodie friend dropped by midway through my cooking, so I had her stay to try the final result...then had to pry her away from my dinner! Looked like a great review to me!