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GLUTEN-FREE SOBA NOODLE BOWL


The secret's always in the sauce, but that's especially true with this dish! A zingy, ginger-sesame dressing with just a touch of heat makes this soba + veggie combination come alive, and might just make you slurp the leftover sauce from the bowl when nobody's looking. It's quick to make—the only real labor is chopping the veggies, which can be done the night before. The soba noodles provide a bit of protein, manganese, copper, and some vitamin B1, as well as a dose of dietary fiber. The fresh ginger and veggies are obviously packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. Throw some crispy tofu on this if you want to add a bit more protein. (I love this tofu recipe.) So, let's break this dish down into parts: the veggies, the sauce, the noodles, and the final dish.

STEP ONE: THE VEGGIES

The crunchier the better! You can always substitute in what you have in your fridge, but here's what I used in this dish:
 
 
 
  • 2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 3 carrots, julienned (pretty to use purple carrots here)
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and julienned
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 5-10 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 of a purple cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Fresh cilantro, pulled from the stem.
You could also add some steamed, shelled edamame for a little protein boost (or the tofu mentioned above), if you're eating soy these days. Also, if you like it super hot, add a little bit of diced jalapeño or another feisty pepper.

STEP TWO: THE SAUCE

Here is the heart of this dish. It can also be made ahead of time, but allow it to cool to room temperature if you've kept it refrigerated. There are a couple of specialty oils in this recipe, but it's totally worth it to keep them on hand. I get my infused oils at Whole Foods. The real trick to making this sauce is the ten-minute waiting period where the vinegar and sugar become one, a perfect marriage of sweet and sour.
In one measuring cup, combine the following:
  • 1/2 cup sunflower, sesame (not toasted), or grapeseed oil
  • 2 T toasted sesame oil
  • 2 T chili oil
  • 2 T garlic oil
  • 2 T minced, fresh ginger
In a second measuring cup, combine these ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup gluten-free tamari (low sodium if desired)
  • 3 T balsamic vinegar
  • 3 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T dark brown sugar
Stir up the second mixture well, and let it sit for ten minutes. When you stir it after ten minutes, you should not hear the sugar granules scraping in the mixture. If you do, wait a few more minutes. Once the sugar is dissolved, slowly pour the tamari-vinegar blend into the oil blend while whisking briskly. The two should form a nice emulsion with the consistency of maple syrup. Set dressing aside until you're ready to serve. It will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator.

STEP THREE: THE NOODLES

Because I am gluten-free, I use buckwheat soba noodles. I cook two packets for my family of four. You can do this with rice noodles, or udon noodles if you eat wheat. You'll want to make the noodles close to mealtime, as they will dry out or get sticky if left too long after cooking. The good news is that you only need eight minutes to cook these babies, and then you'll be ready to assemble your dish in no time. The trick with soba noodles is to cook them for exactly eight minutes and then rinse thoroughly under cold water immediately after straining. Once they're cool enough, use your fingers to toss the noodles under cold water. Skip this step, and you'll have a gummy, clumpy mess on your hands. After rinsing the noodles thoroughly, set aside.

STEP FOUR: THE SOBA NOODLE BOWL

Place a handful of noodles in the bowl, and top with chopped veggies, fresh cilantro, and a sprinkle of peanuts or toasted sesame seeds if you like. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the sauce over the top, and sit down to a fresh, incredibly healthy, vegetarian, gluten-free meal that will make all the mouths and bellies in your whole family happy! 
 

With love and amazing sauce from us to you,