Soba Noodle Salad with Pesto and Grilled Eggplant

“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. Slideshow: Pasta Salads 

Soba Noodle Salad with Pesto and Grilled Eggplant
Photo: © John Kernick
Total Time:
1 hrs


  • 1 pound Asian eggplant, sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and tossing

  • Kosher salt

  • 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


  1. 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.

  2. In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat, tossing, until golden, about 4 minutes; transfer to a plate and let cool.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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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