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Buckwheat–based soba noodles make a perfect base for a healthy meal—they’re great hot or cold and they’re also gluten-free.
These healthy recipes are all created to pair with wine (which has 120 to 150 calories for a 5-ounce glass)—all for 600 calories or fewer.
A Japanese ingredient, soba noodles are usually paired with Asian flavors but I wanted to try something different.
I looked to another part of the world that uses buckwheat—Eastern Europe—and started playing around with flavors from the country of Georgia, like walnuts, cilantro and onion. The result is unusual and resembles nothing “authentic,” but it’s delicious. It’s so good, in fact, I might include a version in my forthcoming book, The Modern Potluck.
Serving a dish cold can mute the flavors, so if you chill the salad before serving, be sure to re-season it with salt and vinegar. A little Asian chile-garlic sauce doesn’t hurt it either.
Cold Soba Salad with Spinach, Cilantro and Walnut Dressing
Total: 40 MIN
11/2 cups walnuts
5 ounces large spinach leaves or baby spinach
1 cup cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
2 small peeled garlic cloves
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons rice vinegar, plus more for seasoning
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons maple syrup
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces soba noodles
1. In a medium skillet, toast the walnuts over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer about 1/2 cup of the walnuts to a food processor and the remaining walnuts to a work surface and let cool; roughly chop the walnuts on the work surface.
2. Add the spinach and a tablespoon of water to the skillet and cook until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Let cool, squeeze dry and add it to the food processor.
3. Add the cilantro, parsley, onion, garlic, paprika and turmeric to the food processor and pulse until the walnuts are finely chopped. Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup and 2 tablespoons of water and pulse to incorporate. With the machine on, add the olive oil and process until the dressing resembles pesto.
4. In a pot of boiling salted water, cook the soba noodles until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and cool under running water, then transfer to a bowl. Add the dressing and toss; if the dressing seems too thick, add a little water, 1 teaspoon at a time, to loosen it.
5. Add the roughly chopped walnuts and toss. Chill or serve immediately, seasoning with salt and more rice vinegar if necessary and garnishing with cilantro.
Make ahead The salad can be refrigerated overnight. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
One serving409 cal, 29 gm fat, 3 gm sat fat, 32 gm carb, 4 gm fiber, 10 gm protein.
Wine A textured northern Italian Arneis, such as 2012 Vietti.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and author of the forthcoming The Modern Potluck (Clarkson Potter, 2016). She is also the cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.