Buckwheat is the pseudo-grain (actually a seed) most associated with Eastern European cooking, often found as kasha or in blinis. It's also the flour used in Japanese soba noodles. So why, WHY, is this killer salad from Terry Hope Romero's new vegan cookbook, Salad Samurai, the first place I've seen soba noodles married with Eastern European flavors? And why didn't I think of doing that myself?? The noodles are the perfect vehicle for classic Polish ingredients. Romero hits the nail on the head by combining soba with celery-seed-dusted roasted beets, crisp cucumbers, and scallions in a slightly sweet, very dilly dressing. White beans and toasted walnuts add the nutrition and bulk to make this a totally satisfying, rather ingenious meal.
Why I picked this recipe: Any recipe that makes me smack my head for not coming up with it first is worth a try.
What worked: Everything. Slippery noodles, creamy beans, crunchy walnuts, and perfectly evocative flavor combinations. Delicious.
What didn't: This is just me nit-picking, but the preparation of the ingredients in the photo do not align with the instructions. But whatever, the salad is terrific.
Suggested tweaks: This was super tasty the following day, as well!
From Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don't Have to Be Vegan to Love by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.
- Yield:Serves 2
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:45 minutes
- Soba Salad
- 1/2 pound uncooked beets, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon celery seeds
- Pinch of salt and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces soba noodles
- 2 scallions, green part only, thinly sliced
- 1 English cucumber, peeled and sliced into thin half-moons
- 1 cup cooked white beans
- 3 tablespoons chopped roasted walnuts
- Dill Dressing
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh dill
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon organic granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the diced beets on the parchment paper, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil, celery seeds, salt, and pepper and toss. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with a fork.
Prepare the soba noodles according to package directions, but slightly undercook them to al dente. Drain, rinse with plenty of cold water, and transfer to a mixing bowl.
In another mixing bowl, combine the scallions, cucumber, and white beans. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a glass measuring cup or bowl, pour half over the bean and vegetable mixture, and toss. Add the remaining dressing to the soba noodles and toss.
Divide the soba noodles among serving bowls and twirl into a mound in the center of each bowl. Spoon the bean and vegetable mixture over the soba, garnish with roasted beets, and sprinkle with roasted walnuts.