Soba noodle redux

Here’s what I learned this week: Even a challenge that forces me to try new things doesn’t mean I won’t et into ruts. I’ll just come out of those ruts with several different recipes for beans and greens or, in this case, cold soba noodles.

The weather in DC can’t make up its mind; one day (usually during the week), it’s in the 70s with blazing sun, and the next (usually over the weekend) it’s in the 50s and raining. The problem is that I’m usually shopping when it’s chilly and all I want is a comforting plate of something warm — and then cooking on a hot day, when I want something cool and refreshing.

In this case, I tossed it all out and made this cold soba noodle dish from Orangette. I doubled the number of vegetables, and the result was crunchy, fresh, healthy and delicious. Next week, I’ll try something new for real.

Soba Noodles With Peanut-Citrus Sauce

Adapted from Orangette, mostly by adding a few new vegetables.

For the sauce:
½ cup peanut butter
1 ½ tsp. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
½ cup fresh lime juice
½ tsp. sriracha
½ tsp. chili garlic sauce or sambal oelek
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. water

For the noodles:
½ lb soba noodles
3 red radishes, very thinly sliced
2 small (or 1 large) carrots, cut into matchsticks
1 medium baby bok choy, sliced from tip to root into ¼-inch-thick ribbons
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into one-inch pieces
8 oz. firm (or firmer or extra-firm) tofu, cut into cubes
Handful of sugar-snap peas, chopped
Fresh cilantro or basil leaves, for serving

Combine all ingredients for the dressing in a blender and purée until smooth. Meanwhile, heat a large pot of salted water over high heat until boiling. Add the soba noodles and boil for five minutes, then add the chopped asparagus and sugar-snap peas. Boil the noodles and vegetables for another 2 minutes, then drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.

While the noodles are boiling, heat about a quarter inch of frying oil (canola, grapeseed or anything neutral with a high smoke point) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and fry until just golden. Blot with paper towels to absorb excess oil; let drain on the towels.

Layer about a third of the vegetables, followed by a third of the noodles and tofu, in a large bowl. Drizzle with sauce. Repeat, veggies-noodles-tofu-sauce, until all ingredients are in the bowl. (Layering makes the eventual mixing easier.) Using two forks or tongs, toss the noodles and vegetables to coat with the sauce.

Serve at room temperature or cold. Recipe says it serves 2, but I think it’s more like 4.