Peanut, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad
This meal has been John’s favorite for a long time. That’s right, I said John’s favorite – Despite the fact that it has a weird looking buckwheat noodle, and is just about as far from a hamburger as you can get, John still loves this dinner. If that isn’t reason enough to make it, I really like it too. The first time I made it, I remember thinking, I have no idea how this is going to be – little did I know it would turn into a house favorite! I’m not usually a huge fan of ultra-healthy “hippie” food (no offense to the hippies out there), and soba noodles for some reason had that ultra-healthy sound to them. Take quinoa, for example. I know its uber healthy but every time I make it, I’m slightly disappointed. I still keep trying, but I usually end of thinking, “This recipe would’ve been better without the quinoa”, and then the leftovers sit in the fridge, untouched. This meal is not like that, at all. The soba noodles really add depth and a slight nuttiness to the meal. I made this once with spaghetti instead (because I didn’t have any soba noodles), and while it’s still good, it lacks the uniqueness and dimension that the soba noodles bring. So that’s my rant about soba noodles. You can find them in the Asian section of most grocery stores (I got mine at Kroger).
While this meal isn’t the quickest and easiest meal in my repertoire, it’s also not that involved, especially if you have the chicken left over or cooked in advance. I usually end up boiling the chicken because it’s the fastest way I know, but when summer comes, I’m going to marinate the chicken in some lime juice, and then grill it because I I think the grill marks on the chicken would be pretty in this salad. Oh and about that word – salad. I didn’t really know what to call this. It’s not really a salad – it doesn’t involve any lettuce and is more like spaghetti texture, but it’s a salad in the fact that you can eat it cold if you’d like. I actually prefer it refrigerated, but John likes to heat his up – so it’s just personal preference. I think this would be a great “salad” for a picnic lunch though (can you tell I have summer on the mind :-))!
Peanut, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad
Makes about 6 Servings
For the Sauce:
- 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter*
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 2 T. honey
- 3 T. soy sauce
- 2 T. ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
Stir all ingredients together until somewhat smooth. If sauce is still to thick, add another 1-2 T. of water, but also remember that the cooked soba noodles will likely add some liquid to the sauce.
*I like natural peanut butter here because I think it gives a stronger peanut flavor.
For the Salad
- 1 package (~10.58 oz) Soba noodles
- 5 carrots
- 5 celery stalks
- 3 green onion
- 2 large chicken breasts
- Sliced limes and Chopped peanuts for garnish (optional)
1. Begin by cooking the chicken – I usually simmer chicken in a pot of water at medium for 15 minutes. You can also wrap in foil and roast in the oven at 450° for 15 minutes, or marinate in lime juice for an hour, and grill. (Lime, and citrus in general, helps to keep chicken tender). Shred or chop the chicken into bite-size pieces.
2. Prep the Veggies. Peel the carrots, and slice very thin or shave with the peeler. (I got a julienne peeler at TJ Maxx, and it works great for this). Wash the celery, and slice on a diagonal to create large slices. Slice the green onions.
4. Assemble. If you want to serve the meal warm, quickly toss the sauce, soba noodles, chicken, and about 3/4 of the vegetables together in a large bowl and top with remaining vegetables to serve. If you want to serve the meal cold, rinse the soba noodles under cold water, toss with the sauce, chicken and 3/4 of the vegetables, and refrigerate for 10-20 minutes. Then top with the remaining vegetables before serving. A final sprinkling of lime juice and peanuts gives a lot of extra flavor to this meal.