So this recipe includes a few firsts for me. It's the first time I have ever had soba noodles. I've seen so many good-looking recipes that had them and they are incredibly healthy, but I was a bit fretful. Soba noodles, to me, look like they taste like cardboard. They are not attractive at all. And guess what? After I cooked them for this recipe, I discovered I was right. They taste exactly like cardboard. I thought I was in trouble... But thank God for the heavenly, almond butter dressing that graces this salad. Before I assembled the salad, I dipped one of the cooked noodles into the dressing and I smiled. The nutty and ever so slightly salty dressing is really the star of this salad. So good! The noodles take on the flavor of the dressing and it totally transforms them! If it weren't for the dressing, I would have had to eat cardboard with a side of fresh vegetables. No good... :)
This was also the first time that I used this fabulous vegetable julienne peeler. It was introduced to me by Sarah Yates of A House In The Hills, one of my favorite blogs. If you have a recipe that requires a vegetable to be "thinly sliced," then this little tool is what you need. It makes the job much less stressful than using a knife. It also make the prep process a little more fun and the end product a little prettier.
All in all, this is one of the best salads I've had. I love the crunchiness of the vegetables with the chewiness of the noodles. The best thing is that the salad gets even better the longer it sits in the fridge, which makes it a perfect make-ahead dish. Love that.
Here is what you need and what to do: (serves 4, vegan, gluten-free)
3 tablespoons creamy almond butter
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
2 teaspoons wasabi paste
8 oz dried buckwheat soba noodles (use 100% buckwheat if gluten-free)
1 1/2 lbs napa cabbage, shredded
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 hothouse cucumber, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with kosher salt and add the noodles. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Be sure not to overcook them! If you do, the noodles will be soggy. Drain the noodles into a colander and rinse well with cold water. Add the noodles to a serving bowl and set aside.
To make the dressing, add the almond butter, soy sauce, olive oil, water, lime juice, sesame oil, honey, ginger and wasabe paste to a blender. Blend until smooth.
To assemble the salad, add the cabbage, bell pepper, scallions, cucumber, carrot and almonds to the noodles. Pour the desired amount of dressing over the salad. Toss until all of the ingredients are coated with the dressing. Garnish with sesame seeds and chill in the fridge for a few hours. The longer it chills, the better it tastes!
Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis
Images by me