“Buckwheat and basil actually work really well together,” Bill Kim says about this unlikely match-up of Japanese and Mediterranean flavors. This chunky salad has a great mix of textures, too: velvety grilled eggplant, crunchy radishes and juicy cucumbers.
1 pound Asian eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and tossing
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 cups basil leaves
4 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 pound buckwheat soba noodles
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
6 large radishes, cut into thin wedges through the stem
1/2 English cucumber—halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced crosswise
1 cup mint leaves, torn if large
How to Make It
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the eggplant with olive oil and season with salt. Grill over moderate heat, turning once, until tender and lightly charred, 6 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to a plate and let cool completely, then cut into 3/4-inch pieces.
In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing, until golden, about 4 minutes; transfer to a plate and let cool.
In a food processor, combine the pine nuts, basil and garlic and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, add the 1 cup of olive oil in a steady stream. Add the soy sauce and pulse to blend. Season the pesto with salt.
In a large saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the soba noodles until al dente, about 4 minutes. Rinse the noodles under cold water, then drain and pat dry.
In a large bowl, toss the soba noodles with the pesto until evenly coated. Add the grilled eggplant, tomatoes, radishes, cucumber and 3/4 cup of the mint leaves and toss well. Season the soba noodle salad with salt. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of mint leaves on top and serve.
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