Main-dish salads, especially those that work hot or cold, add flexibility to a cook's schedule. If you have time, you could make this dish before work and have it waiting when you return home.
This recipe uses Japanese soba noodles, made of buckwheat and wheat, which add heft to an entree salad. These are sold in many supermarkets, as well as ethnic and specialty stores. (However, spaghetti noodles will work just fine.) Likewise, if you can't find hoisin sauce, 4 tablespoons of soy sauce can be used in place of the hoisin/soy combination.
It's easy to be intimidated by those gnarly pieces of fresh ginger root: Don't be. Look for blemish-free flesh. To mince, cut a large chunk off the knob; peel off the papery, outer layer; cut that chunk into thin slices, and then mince.
Chicken can be substituted for the beef.
For a vegetarian approach, use firm tofu but add it with the tomatoes and snow peas.
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Hot or cold beef-soba noodle salad
Beer or ginger beer
Spice cookies with vanilla ice cream
Hot or Cold Beef-Soba Noodle Salad
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 25 minutes; cooking time: 11 minutes
1 package (8 ounces) soba noodles or spaghetti
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
4 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 piece (1-inch) fresh ginger root, peeled, minced
1 beef strip steak (about 8 ounces), cut into strips
2 tablespoons each: low-sodium soy sauce, hoisin sauce (see note)
2 tomatoes, cut into large chunks, or 16 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 pound snow peas or string beans
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or mint
1 bag (10 ounces) mesclun or herb-blend salad greens
1/4 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
Heat water to a boil in stockpot; cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat peanut and sesame oil, if using, in skillet over medium heat. Add green onions, garlic and ginger; cook until fragrant and slightly soft, about 2 minutes.
Add beef; cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is cooked to desired doneness, about 4 minutes for medium. Add soy and hoisin sauces, tomatoes and snow peas; cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in basil; remove from heat.
Drain noodles; combine with beef mixture. (If you prefer a cold salad, store noodle-beef mixture in covered container in refrigerator until ready to use.) Divide salad greens among 4 plates or bowls; put beef-noodle mixture on top. Top each serving with 1 teaspoon chopped peanuts.
Note: Hoisin is a sweet-salty sauce made of soybeans, garlic, chiles and other spices. It's sold in ethnic stores and some larger supermarkets. If you can't find it, you can substitute an additional 2 tablespoons soy sauce for the recipe here.
Per serving: 484 calories; 18 grams fat; 4 grams saturated fat; 35 milligrams cholesterol; 59 grams carbohydrate; 27 grams protein; 569 milligrams sodium; 7 grams fiber
-- Analysis courtesy of the Chicago Tribune