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Dinner in 30 Minutes: Hot-and-Sour Sesame Soba Noodles

Foods with beneficial properties certainly catch our attention in winter. This recipe comes from The Longevity Kitchen: Satisfying, Big-Flavor Recipes Featuring the Top 16 Age-Busting Power Foods, by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson – a book that won’t be out for a while. I’ve taken the review copy for a spin.

The dish is made with 100 percent buckwheat noodles, which are not inexpensive. What makes them pricey and worth it? They are essentially gluten-free, contain more fiber and protein than hybrid noodles and harbor a full complement of essential amino acids. You can substitute whole-wheat or multigrain pasta.

The recipe called for hot-pepper sesame oil; I used toasted sesame oil and crushed red pepper flakes instead. The dressing is a cinch to make.

A helpful note: Most packages of buckwheat soba call for 8 minutes of cooking, but that will create gummy, mushy noodles. Start testing after 4 minutes and have a colander ready a minute later.

Hot-and-Sour Sesame
Soba Noodles

1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds

half a seedless cucumber

1 small carrot or 2 to 3 baby-cut carrots

1∕4 red bell pepper

1 scallion

leaves from 4 to 6 stems cilantro

leaves from small bunch mint

8 ounces dried, 100 percent buckwheat soba noodles, such as Eden brand

1∕2 cup homemade or store-bought sesame-miso dressing (see note)

11∕2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1∕2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1∕2 lime

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Toast the sesame seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for a few minutes, just until they become fragrant. Remove from heat.

Peel the cucumber and cut it into a small dice to yield 1 cup. Peel the carrot and cut it into a small dice to yield 1∕4 cup. Cut the red bell pepper into a small dice to yield 1∕4 cup. Cut the white and light-green parts of the scallion on the diagonal into thin slices. Coarsely chop the cilantro and mint leaves.

Add noodles to the boiling water and stir. Reduce the heat to medium; cook for 5 minutes or until just tender.

While the noodles are cooking, make the sesame-miso dressing, then combine it with 1 teaspoon of the toasted sesame oil, the crushed red pepper flakes and the maple syrup in a small bowl. Squeeze in a teaspoon of juice.

Drain the noodles and rinse, then transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 1∕2 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil and toss to coat, then add the vegetables, herbs and dressing mixture. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds; serve warm.

NOTE: To make sesame-miso dressing, combine 2 tablespoons mild yellow miso, 1 tablespoon tahini, 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon tamari (wheat-free soy sauce), 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1∕2 teaspoon peeled and finely grated ginger root and a pinch of ground cayenne pepper in a liquid measuring cup. Whisk until smooth. The yield is a generous 3∕4 cup. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Makes 3 servings.

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