Almond Soba Noodles with Pea Shoots

Almond Soba IngredientsYet another reason to love pea shoots, and San Francisco-based Heidi Swanson, author of the 101 Cookbooks blog and wonderful cookbooks. If you don’t know about Heidi, check out her blog. Wonderful recipes and beautiful photography (unlike here, where the flash bounces off the tablet, and Grey Cat forgets to take a pic of the final dish).

Anyway, soba noodles, almond butter, pea shoots, basil, Thai curry paste. What’s not to love? I didn’t have any almond butter, so made my own in the food processor (1C almonds toasted on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees, then buzzed in the processor with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil until smooth). And don’t be afraid of the tofu, it was quite tasty here. This is a FAST dish to prepare, and the leftovers were good cold the next day.

Almond Soba Noodles with Pea Shoots

2 teaspoons red curry paste
1/3 cup unsalted almond butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
very scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
6 – 8 tablespoons hot water
12 ounces dried soba noodles
12 ounces extra-firm nigari tofu
4 ounces pea shoots (or other greens, or tiny pieces of broccoli)
12 leaves fresh basil, slivered
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Make the almond sauce by mashing the curry paste into the almond butter. Stir in the lemon juice and salt. And then whisk in the hot water one tablespoon at a time until you have a pourable dressing that is about as thick as a heavy cream. The dressing thickens as it cools, so feel free to thin it out with more water later on if needed. Taste, and add more salt or more curry paste if you like.

Cook the soba in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water just until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain and shake off as much water as possible.

While the pasta is cooking, drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut it into matchsticks or 1/2-inch cubes. Cook the tofu, along with a pinch or two of salt, in a well-seasoned skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the pieces are browned on one side. Add a tiny splash of oil if needed to prevent sticking. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy. About 15 seconds before the tofu has finished cooking, add the pea shoots to the hot pan.

In a large bowl combine the noodles with 2/3 of the almond sauce. Toss well, be sure all the noodles get coated. Arrange the tofu and pea shoots on top of the noodles, drizzle with the remaining sauce, and garnish with the slivered basil and toasted almonds.

Serves 6-8 as a side, less as a main.

Prep time: 10 min – Cook time: 20 min

Great Greens

The finished dish

I didn’t grow up eating greens. They weren’t exactly a staple in a 1960s /1970s Mexican-American household. But any ingredient whose typical preparation involves salt pork and hot sauce can’t be anywhere near bad, and I’ve had awesome Southern-style greens, served with crisp fried chicken and cornbread. Mmmm. But Southern style greens take about an hour to cook, and I wanted something fast. Enter Mario Batali with quick wilted greens with garlic and anchovies. I know, anchovies. I don’t use them often, think they smell like cat food. And the cats agree. The furballs rarely come to the kitchen while I’m cooking, but crack open a tin of anchovies and suddenly 3 begging pairs of eyes are boring into my soul. Anyway, don’t let the smell make you skip the anchovies; they give wonderful salty joy to the dish, and the scent will blend in with the garlic and the greens. Oh, and I used what I thought was a HUGE amount of greens– about a full plastic shopping bag full, and got about 4 servings.

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 anchovy fillets, rinsed
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 head escarole or 1 head or bunch other sturdy leafy green, such as dandelions or turnip greens, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide ribbons, washed and spun dry
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  1/2 lemon

Heat a 10- to 12-inch sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the olive oil, anchovies, and garlic and cook just until the garlic is light golden brown, about 30 seconds. Add the greens and cook, stirring constantly, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, squeeze the lemon juice over, and serve.