You're looking at one of the dishes I make in the summer on my beach vacation. I have been known to nosh on this noodle salad for breakfast, being of the cold-spaghetti camp. For lunch, I might top it with leftover grilled anything.
Dried soba noodles are more widely available than they used to be. When I’m headed for the beach, I stash a few packs in my luggage; the other few Asian ingredients are usually already in a rental house pantry or available at the nearest store.
The salad has a just-right blend of cool crunch in the cucumber and fresh cilantro; creamy avocado and peanut butter; and salty-tangy soy, sriracha and lime juice. I double the amount of sprinkled sesame seeds in the original recipe, which comes from Jonathan Bardzik, a Washington-based cook and blogger with a couple of cookbooks and lots of farmers market appearances to his name.
Asian Peanut Noodle Salad
Adapted from "Simple Summer: A Recipe for Cooking and Entertaining With Ease," by Jonathan Bardzik (Tarnow Entertainment, 2013).
1 English (seedless) cucumber
1 ripe avocado (optional)
2 green onions
8 ounces dried soba noodles (100% buckwheat)
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (or well-blended tahini)
1/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons plain rice vinegar
1/2 to 1 lime
Cilantro sprigs and 2 to 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Peel the cucumber, if you like. Cut it in half lengthwise, then into 1/4-inch half-moons. If using, cut the avocado in half and discard the pit and the skin of one half (reserving the other half for another use); cut the flesh into 1/4-inch slices or bite-size chunks. Trim the green onions, then cut the white and green parts into very thin slices.
Add the soba noodles to the boiling water; cook for a few minutes shy of the package directions, so the texture is al dente. Drain, rinse well and drain again, then transfer to a mixing bowl.
Whisk together the peanut butter and warm water in a tall liquid measuring cup until well blended. Pour in the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and vinegar and a squirt or two of sriracha to taste, whisking to form a fairly smooth dressing. Taste, then squeeze in 1 or 2 tablespoons of lime juice (to taste).
Pour two-thirds of the dressing over the noodles in the bowl; use tongs to toss and coat evenly. Add the green onions and toss to incorporate. Add some or all of the remaining dressing, as you like. (Leftover dressing can be refrigerated up to 5 days.)
Transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the cucumbers; the avocado, if using; some cilantro sprigs; and roasted sesame seeds.
Per serving: 370 calories, 14 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 740 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 2 g sugar
Yield: 4 servings