Friday, March 9, 2012

Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

I have always loved exercising and recently I have started running more.  Ten miles, once a week. About 25 miles total per week. Two friends expressed interest in doing a race with me and that was all the motivation I needed. As I run more, my body seems to prefer, or demand really, simple, healthy food. Less fat. Less sugar. More vegetables. Protein in the form of things like hummus. It is a nice feedback system and I find it interesting that one of the rewards for exercising is craving healthy food.

When I press my body to perform, it will complain loudly when I haven't given it proper nourishment. A snack now often entails a sandwich, made on whole wheat bread with hummus, cheese and vegetables. Don't get me wrong, I made some fudge the other day and I eat that too, but overall I seem to be craving healthier food.

After my run today, I needed to eat a Soba Noodle Salad with a bunch of vegetables mixed in. Miso Vinaigrette is one of my all time favorite salad dressings. I use it on green leafy salads like butter lettuce with cucumbers and radishes. It is good on almost any salad with grilled meat or chicken. And I also love it on noodle salads. It is easy to add things to a miso vinaigrette to mix it up. I have added tamari, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and/or lime juice (instead of, or in addition to the rice wine vinegar). Miso has quite a bit of salt in it, so I don't usually add extra salt to this dressing.

Soba Noodle Salad with Miso Vinaigrette
Serves 1 as a main course

~6 ounces soba noodles
1/2 cup washed and chopped cucumber (peeled, if it has a waxy skin)
1/2 red bell pepper, washed and sliced thin
8 oz mushrooms, stems removed, wiped free of dirt and sliced
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes (optional)

1 T miso paste
3 T rice wine vinegar
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp tamari

Cook the soba noodles and drain. Rinse them with cold water and drain again. Set aside.

Put a skillet over medium heat and add the oil and mushrooms. Sprinkle them lightly with salt, pepper and optionally, the red pepper flakes. Cook until they are soft, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

In a small bowl, add the miso, vinegar and tamari. Whisk in the olive oil.

Place the soba noodles, cucumbers, red peppers and mushrooms in a bowl*. Add the vinaigrette and toss gently.

* One seemingly unimportant tip for making a great salad is to mix the ingredients in a large bowl and then transfer them to the right sized bowl for serving. Using a big bowl ensures that the dressing gets evenly distributed throughout the salad. Otherwise it is easy to end up with either gobs of dressing on one part of the salad and/or no dressing on other parts.

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