I’m in Japan currently, where soba noodles are prolific (and cheap). The white flour noodles are available of course, but their fibrous, buckwheat cousins are just as easy to access.
Not only are soba noodles a bit healthier, but they offer a nutty complexity that compliments a range of different veggies and sauces. In this particular dish, I opted for a “warm” salad composed of hot and cold ingredients. The heat gently cooks the raw vegetables and breaks down tough-to-digest fiber while the whole dish is cooling enough that it won’t be too overbearing on a warm day.
That being said, just because it’s a salad doesn’t mean it’s light. No, this soba noodle salad is hearty and healthy. It will fill you up without making you sluggish, and the complex carbs and vitamins will keep you going all day.
I aimed to use a range of traditional Japanese ingredients including kabocha squash, pickled greens, natto, and a delicious sesame dressing.
But if you can’t access these ingredients, don’t fret–kabocha can be swapped for sweet potato, natto for cannellini beans, and the greens for a fermented vegetable of your choice.
Now that you’ve got your ingredients list sorted, throwing these soba noodles together should be a cinch. Pack it in a little bento and you’ve got yourself a lunch to take away!
Japanese Soba Noodles With Kabocha Squash & Natto
- 4 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
- 1 small kabocha squash
- 1 package (250g) buckwheat soba noodles
- 1 large carrot
- half head cabbage
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup takana (pickled mustard greens), plus brine
- 1/4 cup natto (fermented soybeans)
1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
2. Wash kabocha squash and slice into quarters.
3. Spread 2 tablespoons of sesame oil into the bottom of baking pan and then lay squash face down in pan.
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes (until tender).
5. Meanwhile, bring pot of water to a boil and finely dice carrot while you wait.
6. Reduce heat to a simmer and add noodles, then carrots.
7. Cook for about 5-8 minutes (until soft).
8. Drain noodles and carrots and rinse with cold water, then set aside.
9. Shred cabbage with a mandolin or food processor and mix with noodles.
10. Whisk together tahini, remaining sesame oil, vinegar, and takana, then mix with noodles.
11. Stir in natto.
12. Once kabocha has cooled, dice and place on mixed salad.
13. Garnish with a bit more takana and natto if desired, then serve.
Also by Quincy: Open-Faced Breakfast Dosa-Rito
Related: Soba Noodles with Apple Miso Sauce
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Photos: Quincy Malesovas