June 2, 2011

Taking a Leap

There was a moment, months ago, where I mentioned applying and getting into a few universities.  It was just a passing remark, an event that was a part of a really great year, just a grain of information really.  Well that grain is much bigger now.  The size of a pebble maybe.

In just 2 months time I will be leaving my home in San Diego and setting off for a new adventure in San Francisco.  I'm excited and anxious and scared at the same time.  I've left San Diego before, lived away from home, but it was different then.  Back then it was an itch I needed to scratch.   I wanted to move away because I was relatively free of commitments and ready to take something new on, in a new town.  This time feels more like a blind giant leap.  It helps that D is going on this adventure too and San Fransisco is a city I've come to love, but the butterflies are still aflutter in my stomach.

This time around I'm leaving armfuls of wonderful friends, a job that makes me happy, my dearly loved family and sunny sunny beaches.  I'm feeling the crunch to pack in trips to Palm Springs and Salvation Mountain.  Go camping in the dessert and the mountains.  I want to spend every weekend around a BBQ with friends and every free day soaking in the sunshine at the beach.

So for those BBQs and light summertime fare, I give you this noodle salad.  Give them something unexpected, colorful and bright.  If you promise to keep a secret, I actually made this dish a while back and forgot about it until I was searching through some pictures.  Thank goodness I had the foresight to write down the recipe and changes I made (my organization sometime surprises me!) so that I could share it with you here today.  

This salad will definitely be making a return around here.  The zippy bright dressing is completely addictive, it's one of those things were I want to double the recipe to keep some extra around for my everyday salads.  The crispy crunch of cabbage and creamy avocados all tangled up in the buckwheat noodles, people I have no idea why I let this slip away from me.

Cabbage and Soba Noodle Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing
Adapted from No Tea After 12

I actually made this with cubes of lightly sauteed tofu since sometime I find soba noodles don't entirely fill me up.  You can add them or not, it's delicious either way.  It's perfect for potlucks since it's good warm, room temp or cold and you may or may not find yourself making extra of the dressing to put on your weekday salads.  A punch of color and a little less everyday, I'd say it is well worth it to make extra and keep it in the fridge.

4 servings 

1 medium carrot, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons Japanese rice vinegar
1-inch pieces fresh ginger, grated
1 1/2 tablespoons white miso
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 small shallot

8 oz. soba noodles
1 cup savoy cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 large avocado sliced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
14 oz firm tofu, drained, pressed and cubed (optional)

In a blender add all the dressing ingredients and pulse or puree until you've reached a smooth, if slightly chunky, consistency.  Those carrots are tough to break down completely, so don't worry if there are small chunks after a brief whir around the blender.

If you are using the tofu, once it's been drained pressed and cubed, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Sautee the cubed tofu for 5 minutes, shaking the pan every so often, or until the tofu is a light golden color.  Remove and set aside.

Cook soba noodles according to package directions and then drain.  In a bowl, toss the drained noodles with the dressing and cabbage.  Add tofu and mix again, trying not to break or tear apart the cubes.  Serve topped with a few slices of avocado each and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

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