Sesame Soba Noodle Salad
Surprisingly, the biggest caloric issue with sesame noodles is often not the sesame oil or the peanut butter… it's the actual noodles. So here's how I solve this quandary. Bell peppers basically become part of the noodles to provide fewer calories and bigger flavor. You'll cook the bell peppers right along with the noodles; so there's no extra cooking step required either. This cool meal-in-one is a definite winner (for lunch, dinner, or a picnic) for my eyes and palate.
*Note: If you prefer, try this with 3 cups of your favorite very thinly sliced seasonal vegetable of choice, such as yellow summer squash or zucchini.
**Note: To save time, use a bottle of all-natural Thai peanut sauce instead.
- 1/3 Cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy no-added-sugar dark roasted peanut butter, preferably organic
- 3/4 Cups unsweetened freshly brewed green tea or low-sodium vegetable broth, chilled
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 Cup brown-rice vinegar
- 1/2 Teaspoon red chile pepper flakes or Sriracha, to taste
- 1 Tablespoon agave nectar or honey
- 2 Teaspoons unrefined sesame oil
- 1 Tablespoon grated ginger
- 12 Ounces dry buckwheat, spelt, or kamut soba noodles
- 2 large red bell peppers, sliced very thinly into long strips*
- 1 Kirby cucumber, sliced thinly into coins, or 1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
- 2 scallions, green and white parts, sliced very thinly on a bias
- 2 Teaspoons roasted or pan-toasted black or white sesame seeds
- 2 Tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
Combine the peanut butter, tea, soy sauce, vinegar, red chile pepper flakes, honey, sesame oil, and ginger in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Cook over medium heat while whisking until the sauce is smooth, slightly thickened, and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a large bowl and set aside.**
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and bell peppers. Cook until al dente, about 4 minutes, or according to the noodle package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water until cool, and drain well. Add the noodles and bell peppers to the sauce in the large bowl along with the cucumber and scallions and toss to combine.
Transfer to a serving bowl, if desired. Top with the sesame seeds and cilantro and serve at room temperature or chilled.