The Rumbly Tummy: Peanut Soba Salad Bowl
We booked Michigan as we were sweating in Florida's heat a good year or so back. Mallory hates the heat. She really hates to sweat.
"Michigan," she gritted her teeth. "We are spending next March in Michigan." And then, she furiously began sending booking emails. And then, she got responses. And that's how we found ourselves trudging through the cold and snow of Michigan in March. We haven't felt a drop of sweat for weeks, not even on our hikes. Mostly, we've been massaging our frostbitten toes and thanking our stars its not Florida in June.
And what is a snowy Michigan day without hot chocolate and... a cold noodle salad?
The R&T can be a bit temperature zealous.
But for whatever reason, twice this month we concocted a bowl of cold crunchy veggies, thick peanut dressing, and hearty buckwheat noodles. That's what soba is! A Japanese noodle made from buckwheat and popular in soups and salads. And we stocked up on them while at a discount grocery store in Black Mountain, NC before we hauled out for the year (Be aware, if you are gluten-free-- soba is occasionally made with a mixture of buckwheat AND wheat, which is not GF. You are either going to need to track down a discount organic grocery store, an Asian market, or shell out close to $8 for the real deal soba at those fancy whole food stores).
As much as we love those hot, steamy and/or spicy foods, sometimes the winter weather makes our bodies want something to brighten the taste buds and preemptively crunch those fresh summer veggies, And while lettuce may not be on the radar just yet in Michigan, there is cabbage for days.
And so, for you winter-living-summer-seeking folk, your April edition of The Rumbly Tummy: Peanut Soba Salad Bowl.
Peanut Soba Salad Bowl (serves 2-- double soba noodles for 4)
For Peanut* Dressing:
1/2 c peanut butter of choice
3 TBSP water
3 TBSP tamari or soy sauce
2 TBSP rice vinegar
1 TBSP toasted sesame oil
1 tsp fresh ginger, chopped finely
1 tsp fresh garlic, chopped finely
1 8 oz package 100% buckwheat soba noodles
dash of tamari
dash of sesame oil
get creative! pick your favorite mixture of raw veggies cut in a variety of textures. Here's what we used:
1/2 head Napa cabbage, sliced in long 1/2" strips
1 medium head of bok choy, roughly chopped
2 large radishes, sliced into thin coins
handful of baby carrots
1/4 cucumber, cut into quarter coins
1/2 c alfalfa sprouts
2 green onions, diced
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, chopped finely
BONUS: Fried Lotus Root!:
even with the hearty noodles in the bottom, on a colder day, it's nice to have a hot topping to go with the cold veggies. You can add just about any protein (tofu or meat) fried up in sesame oil with a splash of tamari for a quick addition. We found a package of sliced lotus roots, however, for cheap at an Asian Market in Nashville, and were dying to try them. So here is what you will need if you're feeling adventurous (lotus roots are a little like water chestnuts, and a little like radish, and absorb the flavor of what's around them):
1 c sliced lotus root
1 TBSP sesame oil
2 tsp fresh ginger, chopped finely
2 tsp fresh garlic, chopped finely
dash of tamari
1. Prepare the dressing first so as to allow the flavors to meld together. Add more/less water to adjust thickness to preference (we like it thicker).
2. Place a large pot of water on high heat and bring to a boil. While you're waiting for it to boil (remember, a watched pot never does), prep your veggies and place them on a plate separately (the fun of this bowl is to be able to layer what you want in your own bowl!).
3. Place soba in boiling water. We found it pretty helpful to consult this link to cook the soba properly and to make it not gummy. They will need to be cooked for only 4-5 minutes. DON'T OVERCOOK! Be prepared to drain it with a colander (we reserved the leftover soba water and added it to our dog's food as a hearty, safe, tasty treat for their own "soba bowls"). When you drain the soba, run cold water over the noodles to stop the cooking, then coat lightly with sesame oil and a bit of tamari. Set aside.
4. BONUS ROUND!: Either toss your protein in a pan, or follow these instructions to be just
like us and cook up some lotus root:
a. place sesame oil in a skillet on high.
b. when hot, throw in garlic and ginger, saute for a minute til fragrant.
c. drop in lotus roots in a single or slightly overlapping layer at the bottom of the pan.
d. brown the roots, then flip for the other side.
e. throw in a dash of tamari, then stir it all around and drop the roots and garlic/ginger bits into a bowl.
5. Drop soba noodles evenly into two bowls. Top with the veggies you want in layers. Place hot topping on cold veggies. Drizzle with peanut sauce (or alternative dressing). Enjoy with chopsticks or a fork with your favorite pal(s).
*for those of you peanut sensitive, you may want to replace the peanut sauce with another nut butter, or whisk together a little rice vinegar, tamari, and toasted sesame oil for a simple and tasty alternative.