May 29, 2014

Soba & cabbage noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce

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Ten days ago was Theo’s first birthday party. I meant to take photos of his cake and share that with you – but the opportunity eluded me in the bustle of party hosting.

I’ve started this blog post at least half a dozen times, but keep abandoning it. It is an emotional experience, celebrating your first child’s first birthday. I’ve struggled to scramble together the words to commemorate it properly. I’ve been mulling over what I should write here for weeks now, but in the end… the thoughts in my brain are just to disjointed and poorly organized to summarize such a huge personal journey.

Photo by Tina Francis.

It has been a year of sheer joy, complete chaos and unnerving love. I spent it exhausted and happy, in equal parts – often to the brink of tears for one or the other, sometimes both.

I’m just so grateful for the community of friends and family we have surrounding us, even from a distance. For the Nana and Granny/Grandpa who flew across the country and across the world to be part of Theo’s first weeks, and who took such good care of us.

For the sister and brother-and-law who love him so much, playing with him for hours on end.

Photo by Tina Francis.

For all the amazing mamas who have shared their wisdom, experience and support – you have been my absolute rock this first year – whether over coffee dates or long-distance Facebook threads or right here in my comments.

For all the friends who rocked Theo in their arms while I puttered away in the kitchen, who have showered him with affection, spoiled him with gifts and have been so understanding of the reduced number of girls’ nights.

For the sweet, caring babysitters who have given me peace of mind, allowed me get work done and have date nights.

For the stranger in Costco who said, “You’re doing great, sister!” when I was out shopping with Theo, exhausted and overwhelmed, when he was just a couple weeks old.

To all the many people – husband, family, friends, neighbours – in my life who share with me the experience of growing in motherhood and loving Theo: thank you.

Happy birthday, little peanut. 🙂

And speaking of peanut… I bring you peanut sauce!

Haha that was a totally unplanned segue, but I’m pretty pleased with myself about it.

Give me a peanut sauce that hits all the notes (sweet, salty, sour, spicy) and I am yours forever.

This chewy soba noodle salad is full of crunchy peanuts and carrots, sunflower sprouts, vibrant herbs and (the little secret) lots and lots of cabbage “noodles”.

Shredded cabbage is cooked along with the soba, doubling the volume of your bowl while -somehow imperceptibly – only half of your noodles are real noodles. Because let’s be real – I want to totally drown it in peanut sauce. Balance!

Feel free to sub in whatever veggies you have in your crisper – asparagus, zucchini, red pepper, spinach… it’s a good “clean-out-the-fridge” salad. I rounded it out with some spice-rubbed grilled steak (for my hubby who thinks a meal is not a meal without animal protein). Alternatively, some nicely seared tofu cubes would be really amazing, as would shredded leftover chicken.

Photo by Tina Francis.

It’s been quiet around here. Sorry for that, I’m back now.

Ingredients

For dressing:

  • ? cup natural, unsalted peanut butter
  • 5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 tbsp lime (or lemon) juice
  • 2 large (or 3 small) cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1-3 tsp crushed red chili flakes, to taste

For salad:

  • 3.5 oz/100 grams (½ package) snap peas, trimmed
  • ½ lb soba noodles
  • ¼ cabbage, cored, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 carrot, peeled, julienned or shredded
  • 75 grams 2 cups (loosely packed) pea, bean or sunflower sprouts
  • Handful of chopped fresh mint and/or cilantro
  • Handful of chopped, roasted peanuts, optional

Preparation

  1. Combine all dressing ingredients (starting with 1 tsp chili flakes, and adding more to taste) in a microwave-safe bowl, then microwave on full power in 30 second intervals until it’s loose enough to whisk together. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to thin out to desired consistency.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and cold water.

  3. Cook snap peas in boiling water for 30 seconds, or just until they turn bright green, then plunge in ice bath. Add soba noodles and cabbage to boiling water and cook 7 minutes, or until both are tender. Transfer to colander and rinse with cold water until cool. Let drain thoroughly.

  4. Toss snap peas, noodles, cabbage and carrot together with dressing in a bowl. Top with sprouts, herbs and peanuts. Serve chilled or room temperature.

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Hi, I’m Jenn! I’m in the Foodess kitchen making a spectacular mess + making something delicious, in roughly equal parts. So happy that you’ve joined me!

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