I like to say that I’ll eat anything wrapped in a fresh tortilla or a crepe, and anything that involves a noodle. I might be exaggerating, but probably not. Tortillas and noodles alone might not sustain a person over a long period, but when accompanied by a delicious dressing, plenty of raw veggies and a little protein, definitely yes.
Rice and Soba noodles (buckwheat), each with a savory dressing, are vehicles for consuming a variety of seasonal vegetables, whatever season, chopped and strewn over the top. Healthy dinner in a bowl, a big bowl. Guilt-free noodles a bonus.
These recipes are mostly anecdotal and can be rearranged to suit your own preferences. Choose your own noodle, your own chopped fresh vegetables and embellish as you wish. Here’s how I did it based on several random recipes and from my own dining experiences and preferences. This is a pretty fast meal if you have ingredients on hand. Soba and rice noodles cook in under 5 minutes, veggies can be chopped in 10 – 15 minutes and dressings made in a few minutes. Move into fall and winter with this same scenario using broccoli, onion, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, chard, mushrooms, squash . . .
Soba Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce Recipe
3 – 4 servings. Though this salad is good at room temperature, we like it best when the freshly cooked noodles are mixed with warm peanut sauce and eaten right away – peanut sauce congeals as it cools.
Ingredients for Peanut Sauce dressing: 3/4 C room temperature peanut butter/ 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped/ 3 T each of rice vinegar, soy sauce and fish sauce/ 2 T honey/ 1/2 t red pepper flakes or finely chopped fresh jalapeno, 2 T lime juice/ 3 – 4 T warm water. Eliminate, add more or less of any ingredient. Your own palate is the guideline.
Directions: Stir all ingredients together in a bowl until smooth and creamy, adjusting quantities as needed to achieve the taste you like/Make the dressing ahead of time if possible and allow flavors to marinate/ Heat the peanut sauce gently on the stove top or in a microwave just before tossing with Soba noodles/ Cook 9 oz. pkg. of Soba noodles for 3 – 4 minutes, rinse thoroughly with water, toss with most of the peanut sauce, reserving some to add as needed later/ Stir in most of the finely chopped summer vegetables – red pepper, scallions, cucumber, broccoli, carrots, anything you like – add more sauce as needed/ Serve in bowls topped with a few of the reserved vegetables, protein of your choice – chicken, pork or tofu – cilantro and chopped peanuts. Double the above recipe for a very saucy salad or if using more noodles.
There are certainly more complicated peanut sauce recipes but this one comes together quickly and is delicious. Dinner in 20 minutes – if you have ingredients on hand.
Soba noodles in a bowl with a few drops of sesame oil, soy and a few toasted sesame seeds – so good.
Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad Recipe
The dressing inspired by Bobby Flay’s Vietnamese Rice Salad.
As with the recipe above for Soba Noodles and Peanut Sauce Salad, it’s all in the dressing. Suggestions here, but the vegetables and protein are your call.
Ingredients & Directions for a Vietnamese Salad dressing: 2 T finely chopped garlic (3 cloves)/ 1/4 t (or more if you like spicy) finely chopped jalapeno/ 2 T rice vinegar/ 2 T fish sauce/ 3 T soy sauce/ 1 t sesame oil/ 2 T lime juice/ 1 T honey/Could add a 2-inch piece of lemon grass to this, let it marinate in the dressing and then remove. Whisk it all together, taste and adjust as needed to suit your own palate.
Prepare finely chopped vegetables – cucumber, peas, green beans, scallions, red pepper, broccoli, several cups of napa cabbage, cilantro, mint – and protein of your choice. Cook or soak rice noodles according to directions on the package. Rinse and toss noodles with dressing along with most of the chopped vegetables, mint and cilantro. Reserve some dressing to add as needed. Place a healthy serving of chopped Napa cabbage on the bottom of each plate or bowl, top with noodles and vegetables. Garnish each serving with protein of choice, chopped vegetables, peanuts or cashews, mint and cilantro, and more dressing if needed.