For a long time now, long before Instagram, I’ve viewed food as art. I love looking at a beautiful, put-together plate with color, symmetry, balance and sometimes even height. Eating is something you do with all five of your senses and most people eat with their eye before any of the other senses are involved.
As I created a dish for the second round of the Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Summer Side Showdown, I knew I needed something that would be beautiful and could be served outside. The theme of the second round is “Perfect for a Picnic” and to me, that means you need to be able to bring it with you and actually eat it outside. However, that doesn’t negate that idea in my mind that it should also look beautiful.
In finding something that would hold up well to transport to a picnic or a summer barbecue and to summer heat, I immediately thought about pasta.
But, I didn’t want to do just plain pasta dish. We have hundreds of Italian pasta variations that my family has brought along to summer barbecues throughout my life and while all of them are delicious, they all seemed a bit plain to me.
My grandmother used to say to me, “How do you know you don’t like something unless you try it?”
Her words have echoed in my head throughout my life and have really led me to be a bit adventurous when it comes to food. I like to think I can possibly have that same impact on other people and entice them to try new things that I know they will love – even if they don’t think they will.
When most people think of noodles they think of Italian-style pasta, Udon or ramen, but there’s a noodle that’s become a favorite in our house due to its flavor and versatility: Soba noodles.
Soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat and are a good source of nutrients like protein, fiber and iron, according to livestrong.com. They have a bit of a nut-like taste to them and also “have about half the calories and carbohydrates as typical white flour pasta.”
Mixing the Soba noodles with all the beautiful summer vegetables and an incredible soy honey lime dressing became a no-brainer for me. All the flavors sing together and all the colors pop. You may start eating this dish with your eyes, but it will resonate with all of your sense and in the end your belly will be happy.
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- Salad Ingredients:
- • 6-8 oz of Soba noodles
- • 4 carrots, peeled
- • ½ cup of cilantro, chopped.
- • 2 cups of frozen edamame, cooked
- • 10 oz. of sugar snap peas
- • 16 oz. jar of roasted red peppers, washed and sliced
- • ¼ cup of sesame seeds
- • 1 Tbsp. of sesame oil
- Dressing Ingredients:
- • ¼ cup of soy sauce
- • 2 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
- • 2 Tbsp. honey
- • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
- • 1 Tbsp. of ginger, grated
- • 1 ½ Tbsp. lime juice
- • Optional: 1 tsp. of Sriracha
- Boil 5 cups of water and then add Soba noodles. Cook about 6-8 minutes until tender and then drain.
- Add 1 Tbsp. of sesame oil to the noodles to prevent them from sticking together and then chill in the refrigerator.
- Mix soy sauce, extra virgin olive oil, honey, sesame oil, ginger and lime juice. Whisk until well combined and then refrigerate.
- In a small pot, boil three cups of water and cook your sugar snap peas for 3 minutes. You want them cooked and crisp but not limp.
- Cook your edamame in the microwave according to package directions.
- Slice the carrots into ribbons with a vegetable peeler or strips with a Julienne peeler and chop the cilantro.
- Wash your roasted red peppers and slice them.
- Combine all the ingredients with the noodles and mix well OR combine all the ingredients except the sauce, cilantro and sesame seeds. You can make this dish the night before and combine everything and chill. Personally, I think it gets better with age.
- Add the sauce and cilantro to the mixture right before serving and mix thoroughly.
- Before serving sprinkle with the sesame seeds and top with some additional cilantro.