Soba are Japanese buckwheat noodles that are delicious in a sauce made with Japanese condiments. I mix in a variety of salad veggies, and sprinkle with peanuts for a balanced vegan meal. I didn’t have any edamame on hand for the pictures, but they would make an excellent protein addition.
Soba noodles can be either made completely of buckwheat (therefore gluten free) or a combination of wheat, buckwheat and yam powder, like the package here. The vermicelli noodles are bound in mini packets by paper strips, making them easy to measure for a meal.
Ingredients: Serves 3 as a main meal
2 mini packets soba noodles
Vegetables: I used a rainbow of veggies that I had in my fridge, so feel free to improvise.
2 stalks broccoli
2 large radishes
1 persian cucumber
1 large carrot
1/2 red bell pepper
4 scallions, green parts only
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tb soy sauce
1 Tb sesame oil
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp Sriracha (add more if you like more heat)
1/2 tsp finely grated ginger
1 tsp miso
1 Tb sesame seeds
salt to taste
2 Tb Nori Kome Furakaki
1 cup roasted salted peanuts
Bring 3 quarts of water to boil, then add soba noodles. Lower heat to medium and cook according to package directions. My package only had directions in Japanese, which unfortunately I don’t read, so I found out 7 minutes made a noodle that was 2 minutes soft this side of al dente. Drain the noodles in the salad spinner basket and run for a minute under cold water. Fill the bowl of a salad spinner with ice water, then dunk the basket in the ice water and move the noodles around with your hands to eliminate the excess starch. Let them sit until they are cool, then remove the basket from the ice water and let it drain.
While water is heating and noodles are cooking, separate broccoli tops into tiny florets. Bring 2 cups of water in medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add shelled edamame and bring back to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Place broccoli florets in a steamer basket above the boiling water. Cover and cook for 2 minutes and broccoli is bright green.
While it is cooking, fill a large bowl with an ice bath. Remove the steamer basket full of florets basket and empty into the ice bath. Drain the edamame and put in the ice bath along with the florets. Leave them there while you prepare the other ingredients.
Peel the carrots and cut off the ends. Use a knife to peel the tough skin from the broccoli stalks. I used a box grater to grate them and the radishes.
Finely chop the green parts of the scallions, julienne the red pepper and cucumber, and separate the cilantro leaves. Thinly slice the cabbage with a large knife or mandoline.
Combine sauce liquids, ginger, miso, and sesame seeds, then mix the noodles until they are well coated. Add the Furakaki and prepared vegetables, tossing well. Add salt to taste
Perfect for lunch or a light dinner on a summer’s day. Sweet mango, sour lemon, tangy Blue cheese, salty crunchy cashews, smooth avocado, and chicken for protein. All on a bed of organic baby lettuce and baby spinach.
Ingredients: makes 2 salads
Several handfuls of baby spinach-baby lettuce mix per plate
1/2 cup shredded roasted chicken
1 Manila mango or 1/2 Tommy Atkins mango, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 large Haas avocado, cut into bite sized pieces
1 Tb blue cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup roasted, salted cashews (can substitute peanuts or pistachios)
Juice of 1/2 large lemon
A few shakes Kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Put lettuce-spinach mix on plates. Arrange chicken, mango, and avocado pieces evenly around the top of the greens.
Sprinkle blue cheese and cashews on top. Squeeze the lemon and sprinkle with Kosher salt on the salad. Drizzle olive oil over the salad. Toss to combine. Enjoy!
This French salad (Niçoise means from Nice, France) is a far cry from the mayonnaise-drenched tuna and celery salad of my childhood. Traditionally it’s served with anchovies and I’ve had a fancy version made with seared sushi grade tuna. This is my “shelter-in-place” version, made from what’s left in my pantry and fridge a week and half since I braved the grocery store. The eggs are cooked a minute beyond “jammy.” This was enough for a nice lunch with my husband, still tasty if not altogether authentic.
Salad ingredients: (serves 2)
5 oz can tuna in olive oil
Iced water (half ice water and half crushed ice) in a bowl
1 tsp Kosher salt
a couple of handfuls of fresh or frozen green beans (You can get fancy French with skinny haricot verts)
1 medium white or red potato
2 bay leaves
Several grinds black pepper
A couple of handfuls of spring salad mix
A handful of mini cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
10 salty olives. I had Manzanillas on hand (a packet from Trader Joe’s)
A few pieces of avocado if you like
2 Tb lemon juice
1 Tb water
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp dried tarragon
1/4 tsp dried dill weed
Pinch of Kosher salt
Several grinds black pepper
3 Tb Olive oil (EVOO is best)
Oil drained from tuna can
Place can of tuna in the refrigerator right before you start to cook.
Have a bowlful of iced water ready.
Boil salted water in a medium saucepan (It should come up 2/3 of the way.) Gently place the eggs in the water using a slotted spoon. Lower heat to medium so the water is boiling gently. Cover pot and cook for 7 -8 minutes. Remove eggs from pot and place in iced water.
Put a couple of handfuls of green beans in the boiling water. Cook uncovered for about 4 minutes, until they are bright green. Fish out the green beans with the slotted spoon and place in the iced water, adding more ice.
Add a bay leaf or two and a couple of grinds of black pepper to the boiling water. Stab the potato a few times and lower into the water. Cook, covered for about 18 minutes, or until potato is fork-tender but still firm.
Remove green beans and eggs from the iced water and put in the potato. Place the green beans on a paper towel to drain. Peel the eggs, starting at the flat end where the air pocket is, which makes so much easier! Rinse them, then cut in half crosswise. Remove the potato from the iced water when it’s cool enough to handle and gently peel it by hand, then cut into bite-sized pieces.
Whisk together lemon juice, water, mustard, tarragon, dill, salt and pepper. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking. Open tuna fish can and drain oil into the dressing and whisk well until emulsified. (The mustard helps with the emulsification.) You can also do this in a blender.
Put salad greens on plates and place tuna in the middle of each plate on top of the greens. Place eggs, potatoes, and green beans each in its own area around the tuna. Scatter the olives, tomatoes, and avocado over the salad. Generously pour dressing over the salad.
Perfect for a summer day when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen. Barbecue the eggplant and chop up the tomato and basil. Let the flavors meld awhile and serve room temperature.
1 globe eggplant
3 Tb EVOO
1 Tb garlic infused olive oil
1 medium tomato, chopped
about 8 pitted Kalamata olives
8 basil leaves, chopped
2 mint leaves, julienne
1/2 tsp dried oregano or 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
Juice of half a small lemon – about 1 Tb
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste
a few shakes pepper
Heat a grill to medium-low
Cut eggplant crosswise in 1/2 inch slices.
Combine oils and brush both sides of eggplant, then salt and pepper it.
Grill until both sides are lightly browned with grill marks and are very soft.
While eggplant is cooling, chop the basil leaves
Cut eggplant into small pieces. Mix with chopped tomato, olives, basil, mint, and oregano. Whisk lemon juice and balsamic vinegar into the leftover olive oil and stir into the eggplant salad. Refrigerate several hours or overnight. Salt to taste. Serve at room temperature for best flavor.
In November, the SF Bay Area celebrates the opening of Dungeness Crab season. These sweet crustaceans are all they’re cracked up to be. Paired with bright pomegranate seeds, tangy tangerines, and sweet, crunchy Fuyu persimmons atop a bed of lettuce, and sprinkled simply with lemon juice, they make a perfect late autumn meal.
I’m a bit squeamish about cooking the live crab, and clueless about cracking and cleaning it, so I took the easy way out when my fishmonger asked me if I’d like to have him crack the cooked crab. You can look that part up on the internet. I got the 2.3 lb crab for $9.70 at Berkeley Bowl. It was enough for my husband and me. The next time I made it for a crowd as part of a potluck and shredded the crab.
Ingredients: (serves 2)
2.3 lb crab (or thereabouts, depending on how hungry you are)
2 large seedless tangerines
3 medium Fuyu persimmons (the hard, flat-bottomed persimmons)
3 heads of Romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed (or substitute the lettuce of your choice)
1 tsp lemon juice, plus more to squeeze.
Rinse all produce. Tear lettuce into bite sized pieces and place on a plate. Seed the pomegranate, discarding the bitter white portion. Peel tangerines and separate into sections. Cut persimmons into bite sized pieces, removing large seeds if present (some have seeds, others are seedless). No need to peel them. Arrange the fruit on the lettuce and squeeze lemon juice on it.
You can serve the crab legs atop the salad for a meal. For a side salad, remove the meat from legs and center of crab and shred it on the salad. If desired, squeeze more lemon juice on the crab.
Nothing says summer like watermelon and heirloom tomatoes, those oddly-shaped multicolored orbs, bursting with flavor. Cut them up and you have a veritable painting on your plate. Mix with sweet watermelon and sprinkle a little salt, maybe a few drops of extra virgin olive oil on the tomatoes. Simple. That’s it!
A dressed up tabouli made with protein rich quinoa instead of the traditional Bulgar wheat makes a delicious low-carb summer meal. I based my recipe on Mollie Katzen’s Bulgar wheat one in the classic moosewood cookbook and added lots of extras like artichoke hearts, pine nuts and feta cheese.
Make the quinoa ahead of time and stir in the olive oil and lemon. Then refrigerate until cold. I used a food processor to mince the green onions, mint, parsley and artichoke hearts. I learned the hard way not to use it for the cucumbers or red peppers (it got mushy) Just take out the sharp knife and chop chop!
Makes 10 cups
1 cup dry quinoa. You can use white or red
2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large or 2 medium lemons)
3 Tb high quality extra virgin olive oil
1 Tb garlic infused olive oil
1 bunch parsley -approximately 4 cups leaves makes 1 cup minced leaves
4 scallions, both white and green parts
3 sprigs fresh mint leaves (about 15 leaves)
3 medium tomatoes. I used dry-farmed tomatoes for outstanding flavor
1 red bell pepper
3 pickling cucumbers, peeled and seeds removed
14 ounce can artichoke hearts in water, drained and rinsed
15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Rinse quinoa well under cold water, rubbing the seeds between your hands. Drain quinoa for a few minutes, then add water and salt and bring to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 25 minutes. It will make 3 cups cooked quinoa. You can also make it in a rice cooker using the white rice setting.
Transfer quinoa to a large bowl or container. Whisk together lemon juice and olive oils in a small bowl, then stir into the quinoa. Let it cool and refrigerate until cold.
Using the blade in the food processor, mince green onions, mint, parsley and artichoke hearts until feathery. Stir into cooled quinoa.
Dice red bell pepper, cucumbers, tomatoes and avocado and stir into quinoa along with garbanzo beans.
Serve cold, sprinkled with feta cheese and pine nuts.
I make this salad in early Autumn, when Pomegranates and Fuji Persimmons are appearing and there are a few decent strawberries left. As the season progresses, you may not find the strawberries, but the sweetness and fall colors of the persimmons and Pomegranate seeds still brighten this salad. I added a handful of raw shelled pistachios and sliced raw almonds for delicious flavor, texture and protein. Throw them together with mesclun (mixed lettuce greens) or baby spinach. It’s fine undressed or with a bit of blue cheese dressing.
Now that summer is officially here and we finally had a nice hot summer’s day, it’s time to make Vietamese style Summer Rolls. They are sometimes called Spring Rolls, although the Spring Rolls are often fried. Summer rolls are made with fresh, raw vegetables, with or without boiled shrimp. Gỏi Cuốn translates literally as salad rolls, which is pretty much what they are: a shrimp salad in a roll. I’ve always loved these for their burst of flavor from the fresh herbs inside heightened by the sweet spiciness of Hoisin (WHO-zjen) sauce and sweet chili sauce.
Many thanks to chefs Cindy Hay (pictured above), Wyn Ha and Jenny Inpraseuth; my Southeast Asian colleagues who cheerfully and patiently taught me to make these.
Asian ingredients are available at most Asian markets and Berkeley Bowl
You can make these Vegetarian/ Vegan with just salad ingredients or add fried tofu.
About 2 cups of medium shrimp. If you buy shrimp in their shells, they make a lovely broth.
3 cups water
1 slice of fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic (use two when making tofu rolls)
1 tsp salt
A slice about a quarter of the tofu in the container
Peanut-Hoisin dipping Sauce
Cindy told me that the sauce needs to have sweet, sour and salty flavors:
1/3 cup reduced shrimp broth. If making vegetarian, boil water with sliced garlic and ginger and 1/4 tsp salt
2 Tablespoons bottled Hoisin sauce (tương ăn phở)
2 Tb plus 1 tsp salted peanut butter (either smooth or crunchy)
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1/4 tsp Siracha sauce or chili garlic paste (add more if you like it spicier)
juice from 1/2 lime
1 Tb chopped peanuts
1 package rice paper rounds (bánh tráng)
1 round cake pan or pie pan with warm water
You can vary the salad ingredients, but always include mint, cilantro and basil leaves and rice noodles.
Rice vermicelli noodles (rice sticks) size medium Bún Giang Tây.
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
1/3 cup mint leaves
1/3 cup Thai basil (you can substitute regular basil if you can’t find the more aromatic Thai basil)
4 – 6 green leaf leaves lettuce. Use the upper part of the leaves.
1/2 cup bean sprouts, rinsed and cut in thirds
1 large peeled carrot
2 Persian cucumbers (no need to peel) or 1 peeled pickling cucumber
1/4 peeled small jicama
1/4 red bell pepper
about 6 smap peas, julieened
6 chives, chopped in thirds or 1 scallion, green parts only, sliced thinly and chopped 4 inches long.
You can make the shrimp and Hoisin dipping sauce ahead of time.
Defrost shrimp overnight, or in a colander under cold running water for 7 minutes. While shrimp is defrosting, fill a small pot with 2 cups water and add 1 tsp of salt, ginger and garlic, and bring to a boil. Bring shrimp to boil, then boil over medium high heat for 3 minutes. Drain shrimp in a sieve over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Cool shrimp until you are able to handle them. Peel the shrimp and cut in half crosswise (so that each half has the shrimp shape).
Pour the liquid back into the pot. Return the shells, garlic and ginger into the reserved liquid. Boil uncovered for about 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/3 cup. Pour over a sieve into a bowl and set aside to cool.
Use firm or extra firm tofu. Cut about a slice about a quarter of the tofu in the container. Wrap it in a clean dish towel.
Place it on a cutting board, then place another cutting board on top. Weigh the top board down with a heavy frying pan with several bags of rice inside.
After about 10 minutes, remove the tofu and unwrap it. Cut it into slabs, then halve them crosswise.
Heat a teaspoon or so of oil in a small frying pan and fry tofu. Use tongs to flip them.
Let fried tofu drain on paper towels. Paint on one side with the peanut sauce:
Hoisin peanut dipping sauce:
Stir 1/3 cup reduced shrimp broth with Hoisin sauce, coconut milk, peanut butter, and siracha in a small pot and heat over medium heat. Stir in lime juice. Pour into a ramiken or small serving bowl. Top with crushed peanuts.
If making vegetarian rolls, use water boiled for 15 minutes with 1/4 tsp salt, a slice of ginger and 2 cloves garlic instead of shrimp broth.
Prepare the noodles:
Boil 12 cups water in a a saucepan. Use about 31/2 oz rice vermicelli noodles, also called rice sticks Bún Giang Tây (about 1/4 of a 14 oz package). Be sure they are size medium, not the very thin vermicelli.
Cook the noodles, uncovered, for 5 minutes in boiling water, stirring occasionally.
Cool them by rinsing them in a sieve under cold water for 2 minutes. Stir and separate the noodles with a fork or chopstick so that they don’t clump up. Let them drain over a bowl.
I use a special Asian vegetable shaver with a zigzag blade called a Kiwi Pro Slice Peeler to shave thin slices of carrots, cucumber and jicama. Rotate the vegetable as you shave it. Discard (or snack on) the cucumber core that has the seeds.
Cut the vegetables very thin and small, Cut the bean sprouts in thirds so they don’t poke through the thin rice wrapper.
Summer rolls are not too hard to make, but the trick is in rolling the sticky rice paper. It comes in a hard, almost plastic-like wafer.
I couldn’t believe it was the same thing as the soft wrapper. Magically it transforms when dipped in warm water. It softens and becomes thinner and pliable. If you dip it flat, it wants to curl up.
The trick is to hold it by the edges and rotate it through the water, then give it a quick dip in the water to wet the middle. The whole process should take about 5 seconds. If it stays too long in the water it will become too thin and tear easily, and stick to itself. If it’s too stiff the wrapper will be too chewy. It will soften on the plate as you add the veggies so that it will be thin and flexible.
Place the rice paper on a damp plate. It will soften within seconds.Put a lettuce leaf and a tablespoon of noodles first to add a cushion for the vegetables.
Then add a few vegetables, and a few mint, basil and cilantro leaves. Avoid over-stuffing the roll. I got excited by all the wonderful ingredients and wanted to add it all in as much as possible. My rolls became bulky and torn. Moderation in all things I remind myself.
Roll wrapper halfway, and then fold left and right sides over the filling. Lay 3 shrimp halves, cut side up, with a few basil, cilantro and mint leaves along the edge of the cylinder.
If using tofu, place three pieces, sauce side down with the herbs
Finish rolling up the summer roll. Cut it in half crosswise to look prettier.
Dip your summer roll in Hoisin Peanut Sauce or sweet chili sauce.
This easy side dish uses some of the parsley left over after you’ve taken a few sprigs to dip in salt water at the Seder. Mix ingredients close to serving time. We actually serve this before the Seder ceremony to stave off our appetites.
½ cup parsley leaves
2 large round tomatoes
2 large cucumbers
¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives
¼ cup olive oil
juice of one large lemon
kosher salt and pepper to taste
Peel cucumbers, slice lengthwise in quarters, then chop crosswise into thick slices. Chop tomatoes into thick pieces, and mix in parsley leaves and olives.
Sprinkle in olive oil and lemon, salt and pepper just prior to serving and toss.