Healthy, Quick and Delicious Meals Part 1: Soba Noodles

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Obviously the fact that my blog is based entirely on food and drink makes it look like I am constantly eating and drinking.  And although these are two of my favorite pastimes, I am very conscious about eating healthfully whenever I am cooking at home.  I love to experiment with different recipes, and over the years I have come up with a few favorites that I find myself going back to time and time again.  I plan to share a few of these through this blog, and I'll begin today with my adaptation on Soba Noodles. Soba are Japanese buckwheat noodles and are both nutritious and delicious.  Another thing I love about cooking with Soba is that you can modify the recipe so easily and create an array of very different dishes by only changing a few ingredients.  Here is my adaptation of Spicy Soba Noodles with Shrimp and Cilantro (Note: I offer a couple of substitution options at the end).  

One thing I have discovered while learning to cook and experimenting with recipes is that you don't have to freak out about measurements.  We spend most of our time living in rented houses in Europe, where we often don't have any kind of measuring equipment at all!  I have learned to cook based on 'guestimating' and trial and error, and it actually makes things a lot more fun.  If you're not sure about something, start with a small amount, taste, and then decide if you want to add more.

Spicy Soba Noodles with Shrimp and Cilantro (Serves 3-4 people)

Ingredients:

1 package of Soba Noodles (about 10- 12 oz)

1/4 oil (I usually use vegetable, but honestly any kind will work, even olive oil)

2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce

2 Tablespoons of Rice Vinegar

1 Tablespoon of Sesame Oil (or more-- taste first and then decide)

1 Teaspoon of Agave Nectar (or just a pinch of sugar or brown sugar)

2 cloves of chopped garlic

A large handful of shredded green cabage

A large handful of shredded carrots

1 bell pepper chopped in small pieces (any color)

1 pound of peeled frozen shrimp (it can be fresh shrimp too-- frozen is usually just easier)

A handful of chopped cilantro

A handful of chopped scallions

Red pepper flakes to taste

A few limes

Chopped peanuts for serving

Instructions:

1) Boil the Soba Noodles for about 4 minutes-- then drain and rinse in cold water.

2) Combine the oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil and agave nectar in a cup-- stir well and then pour over the noodles.

3) Squeeze lime juice and sprinkle a little salt over the shrimp and allow them to marinate for a few minutes while you cook the veggies:

4) Sautee the garlic in oil over medium heat until fragrant.  Add in a few shakes of the red pepper flakes and then throw in the bell pepper, cabbage and shredded carrots.  (Note: you can really add in any veggies you want--if you happen to have something in the fridge just give it a try)

5) When the veggies are about half cooked (after a few minutes) add in the shrimp and sautee everything together.  The shrimp should cook for about 3 minutes total (moving around) until they are no longer pink.

6) Add the shrimp and veggie mixture to the noodles and toss.  Garnish with the fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts and scallions.  Serve with a few lime wedges for extra juice.

Note: If you serve immediately the dish will be warm since the shrimp and veggies just came off the heat.  It's really good this way, but it's also good to leave it all in the fridge for a while to let the flavors mix and then serve cold-- it's just a matter of taste-- I like to do it both ways.

Substitutions (to change it up):

I have also made this dish with steak and it turned out so well!  You can use a lean sirloin steak cut into strips-- marinate it beforehand in a little soy sauce, garlic and wasabi paste......yum!  Everything else can stay the same.

Or try it with Tofu instead of shrimp-- you can literally just substitute Extra Frim tofu cut into small pieces for the shrimp.  Delish!