Cool Shiitake Sesame Noodle Salad

I hope my pursuit of the perfect work lunch is not boring you, because I am having way to much fun trying out new things!

Since summer is supposedly here (though the weather in Sacramento seems to be saying otherwise), I wanted to try something more refreshing than my usual soups and stews. The recipe I am sharing with you today is a fabulous Asian-inspired cold noodle salad. It is packed with (vegetarian) protein, veggies, and good carbs so it is sure to fill you up and keep you going for most of your busy afternoon. As always, try to get whatever veggies you can locally; my cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms are all local (as is the honey). If you are lucky to have access to locally produced tofu, this is a great place to use it. This dish would also make a lovely addition to a summer picnic, paired with a crisp unoaked Chardonnay or a citrus-y Sauvignon Blanc.


Cool Shiitake Sesame Noodle Salad
Makes one enormous bowl noodle-y goodness

1 package soba noodles* (8 oz)
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 block extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, cleaned to remove the dirt and sliced thin
2 carrots, peeled
1/2 small red cabbage
1/2 c shelled edamame (soybeans)
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin (white parts only)
1/4 c soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp honey or agave nectar
5-10 drops chili oil, to taste
1/4 c toasted sesame oil
Sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain, then rinse with cold water until completely cool. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

In a large skillet, heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add tofu and saute until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and continue to saute until mushrooms are soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Grate the carrots and cabbage using the grating blade on a food processor or a box grater. Add to the large mixing bowl with the noodles. Add the edamame and green onions; toss to combine.

Once the mushroom/tofu mixture has cooled, add it to the noodle mixture and toss to combine.

In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 c soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, and chili oil. Using a whisk, slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/4 c toasted sesame oil, whisking until combined. Pour over noodle mixture and toss to coat evenly.

Serve sprinkled with the toasted sesame seeds. (I add the seeds the day I am going to eat the salad; adding them sooner causes them to lose their crispiness.)

Keeps in a sealed container in the fridge for about a week. I like to make it the night before to allow the flavors to merry, but you can definitely eat it right away.

*Soba noodles are made of buckwheat available in the Asian section of your grocery store. You can substitute udon noodles (wheat) or any long noodle you like. Just remember, whole-grain noodles are better for you!

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