Whenever I find I’m feeling heavy with the richness of winter eating, I turn towards one of Heidi Swanson’s cookbooks. Turning the pages of Super Natural Everyday is like fanning myself with a warm summer’s breeze straight off the San Francisco Bay, golden with California sunshine. Something many of us Oregonians need right about now. As I write, a crazy winter storm passes over our apartment thick with slush, ice, snow and soaking drops of rain. I can’t think of a better way to counter the cold damp than with a steaming bowl of soba noodles.
I adapted her recipe just a bit, working with what I found it our pantry rather than making another run to the store, but the essence of it is the same. Rich black sesame paste, nutty with a pinch of heat. I suggest you brew yourself a big mug of steamy tea, cozy up to a bowl of these noodles, and dream of spring.
Black Sesame Soba Noodles with Crispy Kale
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day
The Crispy Kale is not in the original recipe, but it sounded like a pleasant addition.
Heidi’s recipe also calls for mirin, which I didn’t have on hand so I substituted with Marsala
and an extra pinch of sugar.
1 teaspoon sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds
1/2 cup black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon plus one pinch natural cane sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons shoyu
1 1/2 teaspoons Marsala, or mirin if you have it on hand
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
Large pinch of red pepper flakes
12 oz soba noodles
One leek, thinly sliced
For the Kale:
One bunch kale, dried throughly, torn into bite-sized pieces, thick stems removed
Toast the sunflower seeds and sesame seeds over medium heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant. About 5 minutes.
Pour toasted seeds into your food processor and pulse until gritty and sand like.
Add the sugar, shoyu, Marsala, sesame oil, brown rice vinegar, chili powder and red pepper flakes. Pulse until blended.
Scoop out into a bowl or jar and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add soba noodles. Cook according to package directions.
Drain, reserving about 1/3 cup of the noodle water and rinse the noodles under cool water.
Add all but about 1 tablespoon of the sesame paste to the hot noodle water.
Stir in the noodles and about half of the sliced leeks.
Serve hot with a dollop of sesame paste and a sprinkle of sliced leeks and crispy kale.
For the Kale:
Preheat your oven to 350.
Toss very dry kale with about a tablespoon of sesame oil and a few pinches of sea salt.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes until kale is crisp and its edges are just beginning to char.