Are You Soba?

I spent the last year in a dark place gastronomically. I wasn’t eating gluten. (No judgment, obviously. I know it works wonders for some people; just not this gal.) One thing that was really great, though, was all the alternative grains I supplemented my diet with. Buckwheat soba noodles are one of those things I probably never would have tried my hand at, but that I’m really happy to have in rotation now. Yes, even now that I’m back to French bread and beer mode.

My favorite soba salad recipe is adapted (really slightly) from the book Plenty. Everything that I’ve cooked from this book is so, so fantastic. Get a copy. You won’t regret it!

Eggplant and Mango Buckwheat Soba Noodles

For 6

½ cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
2 minced garlic cloves
½ finely chopped fresh red jalapeno
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
zest and juice from one lime
1 cup safflower oil
4 Japanese eggplants cut into ¾-inch cubes
1 package of soba noodles (9 ounces)
1 ripe mango cut into ¼-inch strips
1 2/3 cup chopped basil leaves
2 ½ cups chopped cilantro
½ red onion slices paper thin into half moons

Let’s start with the dressing – Warm vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium hear until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add garlic, pepper and sesame oil. Set aside and allow to cool. Then add lime zest and juice.

Next up, eggplant – Heat oil in large pan over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and shallow fry until golden brown and slightly crispy. Transfer eggplant to colander, sprinkle with salt to taste and leave to drain.

Now for the noodles – Cook noodles according to package in salted boiling water, stirring occasionally, about 4-5 minutes for al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Shake off excess water and spread out to dry on a clean dish towel.

Last, but not least – Toss noodles, dressing, mango, eggplant, half the herbs and onion. Set aside 1-2 hours, then toss with the rest of the herbs.

Et voila! You have the perfect summer dinner party recipe to blow your friends minds with minimal effort.