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Japanese Soba Noodle and Vegetable Salad

Cha-Ya is an exceptional vegetarian Japanese restaurant in San Francisco that I love to visit when I’m in the city.  The problem is I rarely get to San Francisco, so I’ve re-created some of their recipes to enjoy at home. Japanese Soba Noodle and Vegetable Salad is bright, fresh, filling and delicious. It also bridges the seasons well. I especially enjoy it in the spring when asparagus and fava beans are coming in, or in the autumn when nights are cooler and I want something more hearty than a greens-based salad. Use whatever vegetables you like based on the season and availability.

Soba noodles are typically made from a combination of buckwheat and wheat. However, for those of you on a gluten-free diet or need to avoid wheat, Eden Selected has 100 percent dry soba noodles. If you can’t find them in your markets, they are carried at Vitacost.com.

I serve this salad alongside a rich miso soup with sauteed mushrooms and scallions. If time is an issue, I recommend Edward and Son’s Organic Miso-Cup. It’s an instant dried traditional Japanese soup. I often use it and add the mushrooms and sometimes glass noodles. For a more filling meal, serve the salad as a side dish.

Japanese Soba Noodle and Vegetable Salad
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup fresh fava beans, shelled, blanched in boiling water, and waxy coating removed or substitute edamame or English peas
  2. 1cup asparagus, diagonally cut into 1-inch pieces
  3. 1 cup green beans diagonally cut into 1-inch pieces
  4. 8 ounces buckwheat soba noodles
  5. 1 cup carrots cut into match sticks
  6. 1 cup crisp cucumber cut into match sticks
  7. 2 scallions, sliced
  8. 6 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
  9. 1 tablespoons maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar
  10. 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  11. 2 tablespoons avocado oil or mild olive oil
  12. 1 clove finely minced garlic
  13. 1 teaspoon crushed fresh ginger
  14. 1-1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce (or to taste)
  15. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  16. 1/2 teaspoon Rain's Choice vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Fit a pot of boiling water with a vegetable steamer. Steam the fava beans, asparagus, carrot sticks if you want, and green beans (or whatever vegetables you’ve chosen to use that would benefit from blanching), until just tender and bright green (or orange) (about 3 minutes). Rinse under cool water to preserve color and crunch, and set aside.
  2. Whisk the vinegar, oils, syrup, garlic, ginger, tamari, lemon juice and vanilla extract together to make the dressing. Set aside.
  3. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook soba noodles according to package instructions. When the noodles are ready, drain them and transfer them to a platter.
  4. Place the noodles in the center of the platter. Spoon part of the dressing over the noodles, then arrange the vegetables decoratively around the noodles. Add the scallions to the top of the noodles. Dress the noodles generously Allow them to sit for an hour or two before serving. Add a few more tablespoons of dressing before you serve.
Notes
  1. Note: Use seasonal vegetables of your choice.
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Patricia Rain
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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.
Patricia Rain
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