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We’ve had an almost unprecedented stretch of warm weather in Seattle, over 90 degrees for about 4 days in a row over the weekend and well into the 80’s before and after. According to the local news this morning, it’s the third longest stretch of 80+ degree days in Seattle history. (Huh.) It’s true that it’s rare to have this kind of heat so early in the summer; we’re used to one week later in July or early in August, but early July generally finds us just squeaking out of the low 70’s, maybe taking long sleeves off in the afternoon. I’m not complaining– other than the general ugly brownness from lack of rain, I like the warm weather. The berry crops are early, sweet and plentiful; banner years are projected for tree fruit and other crops. There’s no humidity to speak of and no bugs, and I have been taking advantage of the chance to open the windows wide and spend some extra time reading outside. (Responsibly, with my new sun hat and environmentally-friendly sunscreen.)

The one aspect of hot weather I don’t like is how quickly my house heats up when I try to cook anything. I know Seattle heat pales compared to most of the country, but one week a year of high temperatures does not justify air conditioning or similar coping methods, and I just don’t like a stuffy house. I’ve taken to cooking early in the morning, various things that will hold and provide dishes for several days, and relying on the grill and fresh, raw vegetables to make up the balance. Last Thursday morning I woke at 5 and cooked potatoes for salad, pork for empanadas and soba noodles for this wonderful soba salad. I was done by 8 and happy with my efforts.

This is my very favorite cold soba salad to make. It’s a nice change of pace from pasta salad; it feels heartier, more substantial, perhaps because the buckwheat soba noodles are rich in protein, soluble fiber and various minerals. They’re also naturally gluten-free and have a pleasant, nutty flavor. Soba noodles cook in less than 10 mins. and hold up for several days in the refrigerator. For this salad, I like broccoli florets and snap peas, but you could also add or substitute bell pepper, carrots, green beans, etc. to the vegetable mix. The dressing is also nutty, from peanut butter and sesame oil, tangy from the rice vinegar and pleasantly salty from the soy sauce. This bowl represents my ideal summer dinner: crisp, sweet vegetables, tender noodles and a flavorful sauce. It’s can be on the table in less than 30 mins. or made ahead, like I did, ready when you are. Because it contains no dairy, it’s picnic-friendly, too! If you are looking ahead to a stretch of warm weather, make a batch of cold soba salad and take cooking dinner off your to-do list. Enjoy the sun instead.

cold soba salad

 Cold Soba Salad 

  • 6 oz. soba noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 2 T. honey
  • 2 T. sesame oil
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 c. broccoli florets, cut into bite-size pieces*
  • 2 c. snap peas, ends and strings removed
  • 1-2 green onions, chopped

Cook your soba noodles according to package directions and drain. Rinse under cold water and then set the colander over the cooking pot to drain thoroughly.

To make the dressing, whisk together the soy sauce, peanut butter, canola oil, honey, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and red pepper flakes, if using, in a small bowl. Put the well-drained soba noodles into a large bowl and add the broccoli florets, snap peas and green onions; pour the dressing over the top and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate. The cold soba salad will keep well in a tightly-covered container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. If stored, toss before serving to redistribute the dressing. I like it best after about 2 days, well-chilled and with all the flavors nicely melded.

*The broccoli can be raw or quickly blanched. To blanch, boil 4 c. water with a pinch of salt; add broccoli to boiling water and cook for 1-2 mins. Remove and cool in a bowl of ice water, then drain completely in a colander.