I work from home, which, as I’ve said before, is really just the best thing to have ever happened to our family. One of the big perks is getting to check in with my kids around lunchtime. For example, earlier afternoon, my kids demanded “cheese and a kiss” before I headed back to work. Sure, I may have crumbles of cheddar in my hair, but it’s pretty hard to have a bad day at work after being smothered in toddler smooches.
In order to maximize my midday time with the kids, I’m always looking for quick, easy lunches for them. Enter soba noodle salad with peanut sauce.
Being born and raised in the States, I always thought my tastes ran pretty American when it came to staple food, but I’ve come to realize through watching the food preferences of my kids that we lean pretty far towards Asian Persuasion when it comes to flavors. Ah, parenting — just another way of learning more truths about yourself as you watch your kids routinely choose fried rice over mac n’ cheese.
The soba noodle salad I make is super easy, healthy and tasty. The buckwheat soba lends a satisfying chewiness, and there’s a refreshingcrunchiness from fresh grated veggies and chopped peanuts. Most importantly, it’s very easy to make and a great way to change up pasta dishes for kids. I love these Hakubaku organic soba noodles, widely available at Whole Foods or other Asian markets, but I usually just order them through Amazon’s Subscribe & Save service. Yes, we burn through soba noodles that quickly. If it’s not this salad, then I’m making miso-ginger soups topped with salmon. The key with this recipe is to make sure your sauce is sufficiently creamy and not clumpy. Clumpy sauce makes for clumpy noodles, which in turn means very angry small people hurling noodles. That might not be a problem if you don’t have kids, but why would you want to take the chance? After all, there are angry little ones everywhere.
- ¾ cup creamy peanut butter (I like Skippy Natural)
- ¼ warm water (more or less)
- Juice from one lime
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 finely minced fresh garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 9.5 ounce package of soba noodles
- 2 mini or Japanese cucumbers, grated
- 1 cup grated carrots
- ½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped
- minced cilantro, for garnish
- Bring a pot of water to boil and cook soba noodles according to package directions (until slightly al dente).
- While soba is cooking, whisk together first 9 ingredients to form a sauce. Add more or less water to reach the consistency of a thick sauce (it should coat the back of a spoon but not stick to the spoon in clumps). Set aside.
- Using clean, dry paper towels, press grated cucumber in a colander to drain excess water. Set aside.
- Drain soba noodles and immediately rinse under cold water.
- Toss carrots, cucumbers and noodles together in medium bowl. Add sauce and toss some more. Add peanuts.
- Garnish with cilantro. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 day before serving (note: if you refrigerate, you made need to add some more water to the noodles to loosen up the sauce and keep the noodles from sticking to one another).