Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Picnic in the Park

For a wedding gift some friends gave us a picnic basket. We've used it more in the past 2 months than we have in 8.5 years. John Isaac gets so excited when he sees me packing it. I think it reminds him of a Mickey Mouse book we read.

Lest I Bible study met for the last time tonight at a park with our families. I made the following perfect picnic palate pleaser (how's that for alliteration?) Picnic season is upon us and this is so yummy and easy.

Oriental Cold Noodle Salad
A spicy, Thai-inspired soba noodle treat that's great for picnics and barbecues. For a Japanese-inspired version, omit the pepper flakes, peanuts, and cilantro; and add toasted sesame seeds.

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 25 Minutes
Yields: 8 servings (you can definitely cut this recipe in 1/2 or, give some to a friend)

15 ounces dried soba noodles (spaghetti is fine)
1 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil (olive oil would work)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
juice from one lime
zest of one lime
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes, or to taste (it's not too hot)
1 cup grated carrot (or more)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped salted peanuts
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or more)

optional veggies: red bell pepper, edamame

optional if using as main dish: add cooked chicken

1. In a large pot, cook soba noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse noodles with cold water, and set aside.
2. Pour into a large bowl the sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and limejuice. Mix in lime zest, brown sugar, garlic, and red pepper flakes; stir until sugar dissolves. Toss in carrots, peanuts*, and cilantro.
3. Cut noodles into 3-inch lengths. Stir into dressing mixture. Cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
4. Toss salad again before serving. If dry, splash with soy sauce andvinegar. Serve cold.

*serve peanuts as garnish. If you add them all at once, they get a bit funky after marinating - esp. if you don't eat all of this at once - and it makes a LOT.

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