Monday, June 19, 2006

Beating the Heat - Cold Soba Salad

I live in an attic - well, at least for two more weeks... It's a great space - no one above me, views of trees out my windows (rather than the street) and a fabulous paint job. However, the comfort factor here is directly related to the weather. Right now, it's disgusting. Heat rises through the other three levels of the house and gets trapped in here. Because of the oddly shaped space there is very little cross-ventilation. Moreover, though there are windows in each room, because of curious squirrels and the disconcerting absence of screens, I can't leave my windows open to air the place out. Well, technically I can, but then I end up with squirrels in my bathroom (not the best way to wake up this past Saturday morning).
So, when I return home from a long and disappointing day in lab the last thing I want to do is fire up an oven or stove, anything really, except a grill - but I'll have to wait for the new place for that (my attic doesn't have a porch). Summer hit Boston this past weekend. It's been in the high 80s and low 90s the past few days with increasing humidity - I'm getting psyched for the thunderstorms tomorrow (love the lightning). Even though it is cooling off a bit outside at this point, the high was 91 today and my attic is holding the heat better than a greenhouse (it's still 89.5 in here now, at 9:30pm). Tonight I wanted something cool, crisp and flavorful. Also, I needed to find a way to use the multitudes of vegetables in my refrigerator and the turkey I had defrosted yesterday. A cold noodle salad sounded like the way to go...

Cold Soba Salad (dressing adapted from Orangette)

3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 c. Thai fish sauce
2/3 c. water
1/2 c. fresh orange juice (calls for lime juice, but it was sour and I had no limes)
1/2 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. brown sugar (can add more to taste)
hot chile paste (called for chiles themselves, but only had paste)

2 servings soba noodles (see picture, each serving is wrapped with a small paper band)
1 bunch of spinach, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 carrots, sliced thinly
4-5 scallions, sliced thinly
(any other veggies you'd want to add or have lying around)
2 T. toasted/dark sesame oil
1/4 lb. shitake mushroom caps, sliced thinly
~ 1 c. precooked turkey (I use the Perdue Short Cuts oven roasted turkey breast - it always comes in super handy, its already cooked and can be heated up and seasoned for any type of dish)

Set a large pot of water to boil for the noodles. While waiting for the water, cut up all of the vegetables:

Assemble all the dressing ingredients in a food processor (I have the mini-Cuisinart) and blend well, being careful to finely chop the garlic. Place dressing in refrigerator until needed.
Heat sesame oil in a medium skillet. Add turkey and mushrooms, until heated and softened, respectively (At this point, I add the carrots to the skillet when I remove it from the stove to soften them just a bit with the residual heat). When the water comes to a boil, add the noodles and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened. Remove from heat and rinse with cold water. Shake well to remove as much liquid as possible. Combine veggies, turkey and mushrooms (and carrots), and dressing to coat the noodles. Can be eaten immediately or chilled for a while and then served. (Ziploc container service optional, but hey, eating out of plastic is one of the few perks of cooking for one :)

You will have extra dressing, so cut the recipe or it can be used as a marinade for seafood (I'm planning on trying it with salmon later in the week).
Now I have several servings for cool lunches during the rest of the hot and stormy days ahead! Have a great week!
~ Lissa

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