Cold Sesame Noodle Salad
Next up in my BEAT THE HEAT series is this Cold Soba Pasta Salad! Plenty of crisp vegetables, creamy flavorful sauce and crunchy sesame seeds - and it makes DELICIOUS leftovers!
The great thing about soba noodles is they only take 4-5 minutes to cook before being rinsed and plunged into ice water. I got up extra early to do this while the house was still cool.
If you get as excited about food science as I do, (and if you don't, just skip on down to the recipe!) you're stoked to see this dish contains both raw red cabbage and raw garlic. By now you may have heard that cruciferous vegetables contain high amounts of anticarcinogenic phytochemicals. These chemicals need to be hydrolyzed (broken down) to be effectively absorbed though. Cruciferous vegetables contain an enzyme, myrosinase, that can easily initiate this process. Myrosinase can catalyze a range of bioactive compounds designed to return damaged cells to their normal state. It's like a defense mechanism of the plant. When cells are damaged or bruised, as with chopping or grinding, myrosinase is activated to initiate the process of cell repair. These phytochemicals have been shown to demonstrate many beneficial properties - anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, anti-cancer, etc. Although more research is needed, you can read this latest report on their use against skin cancer.
Chewing will also activate myrosinase - another good reason to linger over your meal instead of gulping it down. However, high and prolonged heat denatures myrosinase, making it a good idea to eat raw or gently cooked cruciferous vegetables whenever you can.
Now, why eat raw garlic? Garlic (and all members of the allium family), contains organosulfur compounds which have the potential to inhibit blood clotting (thrombus), has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may decrease the risk of cancer. When the plant tissues are damaged (during chopping or chewing) the key enzyme necessary to activate the formation of these organosulfur compounds, alliinase, is released. Some research has shown the health benefits of alliinase is destroyed or greatly reduced when heated. This damage can be mitigated if chopped fresh garlic can rest for 10 minutes before heat application. You can read more about the potential health benefits of garlic HERE and the effects of heat HERE.
Enough science, let's get crackin' before the day gets any warmer!
!00% buckwheat soba noodles can be quite pricy. Instead, I use Organic Planet's Organic Soba noodles (a blend of wheat and buckwheat flours) but for a gluten-free version, I love Trader Joe's Brown Rice & Quinoa spaghetti. The buckwheat blend however, will provide twice as much protein and three times as much iron.
Total time: 25 minutes Prep time: 20 minutes Cooking time 4-5 minutes PRINT HERE
1. Cook the noodles according to package directions and save ~ 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.
While you're waiting for the water to boil, prep the veggies.
Lots of options here. I used:
~ 3 cups purple cabbage, shredded
~ 3 cups sugar snap peas, slices on the bias
~ 2 large yellow bell pepper, julienned
~ 2 red bell peppers, julienned
Any of the following would be DELICIOUS!
~ young fresh green beans
~ young fresh asparagus
~ Thai chilis
~ raw green or savoy cabbage
~ raw red onions (try my Fermented Red Onions HERE)
~ raw carrots, shredded or ribbons
~ raw summer squash, julienned
~ chives (common or garlic)
~ basil (Genovese, Thai, cinnamon, lemon or lime)
To make the SAUCE: (makes about 1.5 cups)
~ 1/2 cup crunchy pure nut butter (I used almond)
~ 4 limes, zested and juiced*
~ 4 large cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 can coconut cream (6oz) OR
~ 1/2 cup coconut milk
~ 1/2 cup pasta cooking water
~ 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (use tamari for GF)
~ 2 Tbsp maple syrup or local honey
~ 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil (optional)
~ 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (toasting is optional)
~ 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
~ 1/2 tsp smoked salt
* Try swapping out the limes for navel oranges and add 1-2 Tbsp white wine vinegar to increase acidity
2. Mix all the sauce ingredients together, taste & adjust seasoning if needed. Add more pasta water to thin if necessary.
3. Once pasta is cold and thoroughly drained, add to a large mixing bowl with the veggies and sauce. Toss gently to combine (clean hand works great!).
4. Arrange in serving bowls or a platter and top with additional basil and sesame seeds. Enjoy! What are some of your favorite meals or treats to make when it's too darn hot to cook indoors? Comment below, I'd love to hear your ideas!
Nutrition information is for 1 2/3 cups of vegetables, 3/4 cup of soba noodles and 1/4 cup of sauce.
If you make this recipe, I'd love to hear how you and your guests liked it! Snap a photo and tag me too, #chefcatherinebrown. I love seeing what you make!
DISCLOSURES: None. This post was not created in affiliation with any product or brand. The opinions expressed are my own. I will only write about products I use and trust.
NOTE: All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on A Seat at My Table so credit is given where credit is due. Thank you!