Let’s start with the big news: it snowed this week! In this freakishly warm winter, I was wondering whether we would eventually forget what snow looked like, but here it is, the powdery white dusting that makes everything look better.
(Or so I thought until someone on Facebook commented this photo reminded him of a cemetery. A pretty cemetery then?)
In other news, Esther has a week of written tests and when not at school, she spends most of her waking hours studying. It makes her a little grumpy which I’m countering by being extra nice. Which mostly means trying to accommodate some of her food cravings. Here in the Netherlands the authorities still tell us we should eat bread for both breakfast and lunch, at least 6 slices a day but Esther’s aversion to the soft Dutch bread predates her birth ( I was not able to eat any Dutch bread while pregnant). Honestly, having been brought up with the dense Czech sourdough, though I can stomach Dutch bread now that I’m not pregnant, I do not like it either. So on Monday I made a batch of maple syrup granola (it’s already gone) and for lunch I made us these noodles.
Since soba noodles are rather popular in our household, I tend to keep them on hand and have made many variations of this dish with different dressings. I liked them all, but when my kids hear I’m making noodles, they ask: ‘But you will make the peanut dressing, right?’. Besides being their favorite, it is also very easy to make. In fact, this is one of the few dishes I’m pretty sure anyone in our family can make (and by ‘few dishes’ I mean ‘2’, the other being pasta with tomato sauce).
It is pretty flexible: you can use linguine or even spaghetti instead of soba and, of course, you can vary the vegetables. But I wrote down which vegetables I used this time and I like this green and crunchy combo.
Soba noodles with peanut dressing
Adapted from Gourmet June 2002
Serves 6 for lunch or 4 as a main dish
125 ml (1/2 cup) peanut butter
60 ml (1/4 cup) soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
1 ½ tbsp dark sesame seed oil
2 tsp honey
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
½ red chili, finely chopped (or 1 tsp dried chili flakes)
60 ml (1/4 cup) warm water
For the salad:
270 g (10 ounces) pound soba noodles
3 spring onions
3 sticks celery
salted roasted peanuts, to serve
The easiest way to make the dressing is to puree all the ingredients in a blender or a kitchen mixer. But you can also easily make it by hand, with a whisk, provided you chop the ginger, garlic and chili very finely first. (This is not necessary if you’re going to throw everything in a blender). When making the sauce by hand, I mix everything except of the water and whisk until a thick paste is formed. Then I thinned the sauce with water.
Break the broccoli into florets and peel and slice the stem. Cook or steam the broccoli until as done as you like it (I go for about 5 minutes). Refresh the broccoli in cold water. Cut the tofu in cubes and finely slice the onions and celery sticks. Quarter the cucumber lengthwise and slice as well.
Cook the noodles in boiling water for the time specified in the package and refresh under cold running water. Toss the noodles with the vegetables, add the sauce and sprinkle the peanuts on top. Any leftovers will keep refrigerated for 2 to 3 days, but do not add the peanuts until serving, or they turn soft.