As temperatures everywhere begin to steadily climb, I find myself straying away from dishes that require a lot of prep work, energy and, worst of all, a hot kitchen.
In my mind, everything in life at this time of year should feel as crisp and refreshing as a summer roll. This salad is inspired by one of my favorite places in Brooklyn, LuAnne’s Wild Ginger. It has a bit of everything in terms of texture, flavor, and best of all, it will keep you full without feeling too heavy. You have the chewy soba noodles, the warmth of peanut dressing, the crunch of kale, and the silky, fresh tofu. It’s also a great dish for meal prepping, as it’s simple to prepare and none of the ingredients are too precious to last in the fridge.
Related: Summer Meal Prep: How To Heat Up Your Kitchen Once To Eat All Week
As a bonus, it is adaptable to your personal tastes. Consider this a handy guide, rather than a strict recipe.
To start, you’ll want to take a bunch of kale, preferably kale, and prepare it for a relaxing massage. Kale has many reputations, and being one of the hardiest cruciferous greens is one of them. Massaging the kale will strike the sweet spot between crunch and spiciness. It’s pretty simple too – after rinsing and drying, you’ll run your hands along the stem to pluck the leaves. Then, stack the stems on top of each other and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
Next, you’ll take your kale and add it to a large mixing bowl along with a tablespoon of sesame oil and a tablespoon of soy sauce. Massage your kale for about 3-5 minutes, or until the kale starts to feel a bit softer. This will also infuse the kale with the sesame and soy sauce flavor.
You’ll just let it rest. Next, prepare your soba noodles according to package directions and rinse with cold water when you’re done. Set them aside in another bowl next to the kale.
Now you have to prepare your vinaigrette. I make it in large quantities and keep it on hand for just about anything; dumplings, stir fries and now this salad.
Take about half a cup of your favorite peanut butter and add it to a small mixing container. Then add about two tablespoons of sesame oil, one tablespoon of soy sauce, one tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, half a tablespoon of lemon juice, half a tablespoon of hot Sriracha sauce and a drizzle of maple syrup, to taste. As you combine the ingredients you may find that the mixture is not as runny as you would like, so add hot water sparingly until it reaches your desired consistency . Vary your proportions to make the sauce as sweet, spicy, or tangy as you want.
Once your dressing is mixed, add it to your noodles and toss until they are generously coated. Put aside.
Finally, you’ll take the sweet and cool star of the show; firm silken tofu! It’s a different texture than the tofu you might be used to and which is often used in desserts. Take the tofu out of the packaging and cut it into small pieces. Now, on to the construction.
Grab your favorite Big Ass Salad Bowl™ and add your coated soba noodles first. Next, layer your massaged kale on top and gently layer your cubed tofu as a garnish.
The dish at Luanne is usually topped off with an incredible spicy kimchi, so if you have a ferment of choice on hand, I highly recommend adding it as a sour touch. The beauty of this dish is how easily you can customize it. I could easily see a few simple additions like black beans, crispy cubed potatoes, or sautéed mushrooms for extra umami. If you don’t feel like going any further, a drizzle of crispy chili and a little dressing will do. And if you find yourself in New York, be sure to check out LuAnne’s and try the real deal!
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