Cold Soba Salad is pretty much the easiest and most satisfying way to “cook” during these oppressively hot summer months. If you can boil water, you can make this salad — and once you do, you’ll make it (or some version of it) again and again.
I was recently rooting around in the depths of my pantry, looking for inspiration when I found a package of soba noodles. Have you ever worked with soba? They’re a buckwheat noodle with a nutty flavor that cook in about 3 minutes. Soba are delicious in hot soups but also fabulous when chilled, like in this Cold Soba Salad.
Cook the noodles and rinse them well in cold water to stop the cooking and set aside.
You can use whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand, but the key is to slice them very thinly and if you’re using long vegetables, like cucumber, zucchini, carrots, or squash, try to slice them so they’re roughly the same size and shape as the noodles. You can accomplish this several ways…
- Use a spiralizer. (Duh!)
- Use a mandoline with the julienne blade inserted (this is what I did).
- Use a julienne “peeler”.
- Use a very sharp knife to slice thin planks of vegetable, then trim them into long noodle-like slices.
Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet for a few minutes (literally 2-3 minutes), just until they become fragrant and begin to turn golden.
Then toss everything together in a bowl. I use a pair of tongs to make sure that the ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing.
Don’t feel that you have to follow this recipe to a T. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Sugar snap peas or radishes would be great as would summer squash and/or a handful of fresh herbs, like mint or Thai basil. Mix it up, you’ll never get bored.
In 92° heat, with a feels like temperature of 104° — yes 104°, we need more of this kind of “cooking,” don’t you agree?
Cold Soba Salad
Crunchy vegetables and a tangy dressing make this noodle salad a crave-wrothy vegetarian meal!
For Asian Vinaigrette:
- 1/2 teaspoon lime zest freshly grated
- 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 2-3 limes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons asian sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sriracha pepper sauce or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons cilantro plus more for garnish, chopped
- 8 ounces soba noodles
- 1 large carrot peeled and sliced into long, thin noodles*
- 1/2 English cucumber sliced into long, thin noodles*
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1/2 sweet bell pepper seeded, very thinly sliced
- 2 scallions white and pale green parts, thinly sliced on a bias**
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- In a small bowl combine lime zest, lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce, sesame oil, ginger, soy sauce, sriracha. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
Fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add noodles and boil 3 minutes -- or according to package instructions. Rinse with cold water. Drain. Rinse again with cold water and drain. Set aside.
- Heat a small dry skillet over medium heat. Add sesame seeds and cook stirring constantly, until they begin to get toasty and brown. Remove from heat to cool.
In a large bowl combine soba noodles, carrots, cucumber, broccoli, bell pepper, and scallions. Add sauce and mix to combine. Finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and additional cilantro for garnish.
* there are several methods to make vegetable "noodles". If you have a spiralizer -- use it. A mandoline works well as well as a peeler with thin vertical blades built into the head. You can also use a very sharp knife, but it will be a more tedious process. In that case, just slice the vegetables as thin as possible crosswise.
**to slice on a bias, simply rotate your knife to a 45 degree angle and cut vegetables in thin strips.