Saturday, January 22, 2011

Honey-Soy Soba Noodle Salad with Perfectly Cooked Green Beans & Broccoli

So, I have a lot of things I wanted to blog but had a very busy week (in a non-productive way, annoying work related stuff that I shouldn't have had to do taking up a ton of time).  But, today I made a noodle salad (with amazing greens on the side) for lunch that I have been meaning to make since the spring.  It is the perfect balance of sweet/salty, cold/warm, crunchy/soft.  The noodle salad is a recipe from one of the dads at our old preschool/day care center that he brought to our classroom's potluck. It's been sitting in my email since Memorial Day. The dressing recipe proportions and ingredients are the same, I didn't have a lot of the salad ingredients, so I just left them out (but the salad is AWESOME with the cilantro and chopped scallions, so use 'em if you've got 'em).  The perfectly cooked broccoli-green bean saute is my own recipe.  Heads-up, you are going to make your dressing while the water for your noodles is coming to a boil.  If you are fast in the kitchen, you can also chop your veggies and garlic, prepping your saute if you have more time.

Make the Soba Noodles:
Use a whole package (the package I get has 10.58 ounces) of soba (buckwheat) noodles.  You can use the fancy ones made with yam as well, they are great.  Tony only used 8 ounces of noodles for the dressing recipe above, but I found that a little "too saucy" as Larry David likes to say.  You can also use spaghettini, vermicelli, glass rice noodles or angel hair noodles.

You just boil them for 5 minutes, drain, and rinse immediately with cold water until they are room temperature or a little cooler.  Toss in a large bowl with all of the sauce (recipe below. You will prepare it while your water is coming to a boil and your noodles are cooking)  Chill, covered in your fridge for at least an hour.  Don't know when they get soggy, you might be okay to even leave them overnight.

Make the Honey Soy Dressing
1/4 cup oil (I used 3 tablespoons olive oil & 1 tablespoon canola oil, I think any oils would be fine)
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper or chili powder
3 Tbsp dark sesame oil
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I used one tablespoon Bragg's Amino Acids and one tablespoon of organic tamari)

Put the 1/4 cup oil plus red pepper in a one-cup Pyrex measuring cup and microwave for about a minute or so just to warm it (you need it to be a bit warm to dissolve the honey you are going to add).  Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk a bit to combine.  It doesn't have to be emulsified, just thoroughly combined. 

OK, now you are going to...

Make The Perfectly Cooked Veggies:
2 heads of broccoli, chopped into florets
A bunch of green beans (about the volume of a cantaloupe. Sorry, don't know how many cups that is) with the ends snapped off.
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil (or olive oil/canola oil combo)
3 tablespoons of water
*1/2 tablespoon Bragg's Liquid Aminos
*1/2 tablespoon Organic Tamari
*If you don't have Bragg's or Tamari, you can just use 1 tablespoon of regular soy sauce.

These are just the veggies I had in the fridge.  You can use whatever you have on hand.  Adjust the cooking time appropriately if you are using different veggies.

Prep: Chop your broccoli and snap the ends off of your green beans.  Mince your garlic and set aside.  In a one-cup measuring cup (you can use the same one from the noodle dressing, no prob) or just a little bowl, measure out your water and the soy sauce or Braggs/Tamari combo and whisk a bit to combine.  It is 1/4 cup liquid total, which is why I like to use the measuring cup.

Cook: Warm the olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-low heat (you could use stainless if you are careful not to burn the garlic) and saute the garlic and salt for about a minute to two minutes tops (do NOT burn it! Do not multi-task while sauteing garlic EVER EVER EVER. It goes from not burnt to totally burnt in seconds flat).  Set  a timer if you think you will lose your focus with the garlic :-). Add all the veggies and stir to coat.  Increase the heat to medium.  Saute about one minute.  Then add the 1/4 cup of liquid to the pan, stir to coat again and cover.  Cook a total of 10 minutes, taking the cover off and stirring it about every 3 minutes or so (stir 2-3 times total during the cooking time). 

Once the noodle salad is cooled and you are ready to serve it, you are going to add these toppings:
1/4 to 1/2 cup roasted cashews, chopped
1-2 Tablespoons of toasted (or not) sesame seeds
*1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
*1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions/scallions
*1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped
*I didn't have these ingredients, so I just used the cashews and the (un-toasted) sesame seeds and it is still great.

I served the noodle salad cold and the veggies warm.  It worked great for texture and temperature contrast in this dish. 

You could also add (pressed and drained) extra firm or firm tofu cubes, cooked chick peas or cooked, shelled edamame or any other veggies you have on hand.  I think raw, thinly sliced or julienned carrots would be great as well, as would kale or Swiss chard as the greens on the side.

Here is the final product:

Oh, and this actually has plenty of protein for you folks worried about that.  You can pack more in if you add the cubed tofu or beans, too.

Enjoy and have a great weekend (it is a cold one here!).


  1. its not vegan if it has honey in it.

  2. Which is why I said you can use agave instead if you want.