Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Soba Peanut Salad

I'm back! And I have lots to tell you and all sorts of pretty pictures, but it may take a few more days because it takes time to sort through 600+ pictures. (I wish I was exaggerating).  So by Friday, Monday at the latest, I will have some lovely shots of where I was last week.  In the meantime, there's salad.
Mint, scallions, and cucumber
Since it is nominally Autumn, I decided to make a somewhat heavier salad, with noodles. It's a transition towards heavier fare and also brings back some of the Japanese elements and flavors I was playing with earlier in the year.

This is a great salad to pack for lunch It's not drippy, because the noodles have absorbed the dressing, it's got protein and fat to make it filling, and the vegetables used are not the sort that wilt quickly, but maintain their crunch until lunchtime. I find it a little overly peanut-y, but that may just be me. I also think the 1/2 a lime for the whole dish is nowhere near enough. There should be a 1/4  lime per serving, at least.

I love the way the Japanese package noodles, so tidy.
From the pictures you will notice that I didn't use the spinach mentioned in the recipe, and this is because I didn't pay attention to the shopping list. But I had bean sprouts on hand, and I think they add a nice crunch.

This is a really tasty and easy salad, and it's something you could conceivably serve to vegans, if you have friends that swing that way. 

Soba Peanut Salad 

Serves 6 to 8

1 pound soba noodles
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup strong brewed black tea (regular or decaf)
3 garlic cloves
1/2 cup reduced sodium tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 lime
2 cups English or Persian cucumber, thinly sliced
5 ounces baby spinach
1/2 cup mint leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Cook the soba noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water according to package directions. Be sure to give them a good stir every now and then, especially at the beginning, so that they don’t clump up. Drain, rinse with cold water, and transfer to large bowl. Toss with 1 teaspoon sesame oil. 

In the meantime, combine the olive oil, peanut butter, tea, garlic cloves, tamari or soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, honey, red pepper flakes, and juice from 1/4 of the lime in a blender, then blend until smooth. Taste and add additional lime juice if desired. Pour the sauce over the warm noodles and toss to combine. The mixture will look quite soupy at this point, but the noodles will absorb the sauce as they chill. Refrigerate noodles for at least 1 hour, and up to 24 hours. 

Layer the scallions, cucumbers, spinach, mint, and peanuts over the noodles. At this point, the salad can be covered again and refrigerated for an additional 4 hours, or it can be tossed together with tongs and served.

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