Early spring is the time of discrepancy between what you can harvest from the garden and what you actually feel like eating. In the garden, it’s still the winter vegetables’ show that’s been on forever: the kale we’ve been picking the whole winter, maybe some last carrots, somewhat toughened by the winter storms, parsnips… But now that the weather has been so beautiful and warm lately and the air so sweet with promises we want our dinners to be lighter, more “springlike”.
Last time I went to the community garden there actually turned out to be something new and fresh and crisp to harvest: brassica shoots. Because the winter has been so mild, many cabbages survived outside that normally would not, including the Chinese cabbage grown in our experimental straw bale garden. It never really formed a tight heart and we never harvested it, but now as the weather got warmer it started sending out plenty of flower shoots. Some were still in bud but some already flowering, the bright yellow flowers attracting the first bees that ventured outside. The broccoli just next to it was doing a similar thing, making lots of tiny broccoli heads. So I picked them all and made this soba noodle and brassica shoots bowl and enjoyed the harmony between what was going into my mouth and the spring blossom outside.
Any king of shoots of bolting cabbages can be eaten in this way, as well as broccoli raab/rapini that the original recipe called for. Winter broccoli florets, if you grow it, would be delicious too.
Soba noodles with cabbage & broccoli shoots
adapted from A House in the Hills
400 – 450 g (about 1 pound) of flowering shoots and buds of different cabbages and/or broccoli or broccoli raab
240 g ( 8 ounces) soba noodles
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 heaped tablespoon of peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tbsp sesame seed oil
3 spring onions, finely sliced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp tamari sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
Cook the soba noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water. When done, drain in a colander and rinse under hot water.
Cut the cabbage and broccoli shoots into smaller pieces, the stalks about 2,5 cm (1 inch) long but keep the florets whole.
In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil and add the garlic, ginger and spring onions, red pepper flakes and some sea salt. Stir until the
Then the vegetables, adding the tougher ones (white cabbage shoots,broccoli) first and the tender ones (like Chinese cabbage) a bit later. Sautee until the vegetables are tender but still have a bit of a bite.
In a small bowl, mix the tamari with rice vinegar, the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil and the remaining clove of garlic. Add to the pan, together with noodles and stir everything to combine and let the flavors mingle.
Serve with sesame seeds scattered on top.