Spicy Sesame Soba Noodles + Summer Vegetables

July 23, 2013

Damn this recipe. Now I have to go out and buy bigger bowls so we can fit all the noodle-y, veggie goodness inside.

Most of the things we whip up in this house are inspired by whatever happens to be in our CSA box for the week. We get one box of whatever is “of the moment” from this little farm up North, and then I supplement with this or that from the co-op or market. The box inevitably contains a few things that get gobbled up almost immediately and fit right into the repertoire twisted to fit the seasons. For instance, there was a period of time just a few weeks ago when we were reaching our saturation point with green bean salad tossed with grilled stone fruits and early tomatoes. I make a tremendous amount of this skillet bread this time of year now that we’re getting bumper crops of corn.

Then, there are those black sheep veggies that seem to still hang out on the countertop or the crisper drawer long after the others have filled our bellies until I figure out what to do with them. This new favorite came to be when we had just the right combination of these types of wonderful, inspirational misfits.

I approach whipping up dinner as if it were one of those big puzzles that your mother used to lay out on the table in the living rooms so that everyone around might opt to stimulate their brains with a little puzzling in lieu of watching television (at least mine did….) Just as I would a big dining-room table puzzle, sometimes I have to stare or meditate on ingredients long enough for me to see the pattern and then – voila! The night that I realized that surprise cilantro, carrots, and japanese cucumbers didn’t have to be used in a standard green salad to accompany pasta, and instead needed only a few friends (avocados and chili oil, primarily) to become something new was something of a revolution. There might have been a jig danced as I was tossing together the noodles and sauce, and high fives over the dinner table.

Each time I’ve made this in the past weeks, I’m thankful for the same thing; this recipe is quick even though you’ll need a few more pots and pans than you’d expect. If you prepare everything top to bottom on one night, the whole shebang will take 30-40 minutes max. If this still seems like a tall order – no matter. Recruit a  a significant other, invite a friend to help, or make the sauces up to two days before you plan to actually make and eat the noodles. Oh! And, the noodles are actually best served cold – another thing to love. Perfect for day-after lunch.

One last thing; we like to stir fry chicken, shrimp or tofu in a bit of the sesame sauce to toss on top. Totally optional, but recommended. Enjoy! – xo L

Spicy Sesame Soba Noodles + Summer Vegetables
for the chili oil
  1. 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, both thinly sliced
  2. 1/2 cup olive oil
  3. 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
  4. 2 tsp sesame seeds
  5. 2 tsp Sichuan pepper, coarsely chopped
for the tahini sauce + noodles
  1. 1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  2. 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  3. 3 Tbsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos, or tahini (OR reduced sodium soy sauce)
  4. 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  5. 1 Tbsp honey
  6. 18 oz buckwheat soba, rice noodles or ramen
for the veggies
  1. pea sprouts, shredded carrots, fresh cilantro sprigs, thinly red pepper, red onion and japanese cucumber
optional extras
  1. edamame (shelled and steamed,) roasted peanuts, stir fried chicken, shrimp or tofu
  2. extra Bragg's, tamari to squeeze on top (optional)
  1. **Equipment you'll need: a wok or large saute pan, a tongs to stir noodles, a large pot for cooking noodles, and a small saucepan for making chili oil**
  2. In the small saucepan, cook the scallion whites, oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the oil is sizzling and the scallions are golden brown (roughly 12-15 minutes.) Let the chili oil cool in the pan.
  3. Meanwhile, put a pot of water on the stove and bring to boil.
  4. As the water is boiling, you can prep your veggies and whisk together the tahini, vinegar, soy, sesame oil, and 2-3 tbsp of the chili oil (depending on how hot you want the tahini sauce to be) in the bowl of a wok. If you don't have a wok, you could use a large bowl. Season the tahini sauce with salt to taste.
  5. Once the water is boiling, cook the noodles according to package directions, until al dente. (For buckwheat soba, this is about 4 minutes but this will depend on the type of noodle you choose.) Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water in a strainer, make sure you shake out any extra water!
  6. If you're using a wok, you can saute your protein over medium heat using a quick dash of the chili oil and two big spoonfuls of the tahini sauce. Transfer the protein to a bowl and set aside while you warm the noodles and add the tahini sauce over low heat, tossing the noodles to coat evenly. If using a big bowl, simply toss the noodles with the sauce. No protein? Simply toss the noodles and get to work putting all that goodness in a bowl!
  7. Transfer the noodles to individual serving bowls and top with veggies and goodies of your choice, maybe an extra squeeze of Bragg's or so. Enjoy!
LentineAlexis http://LentineAlexis.com/

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