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May 10, 2010

Quick Garlicky Soba Noodles with Asparagus, for one



Everyone has favorite quick prep, no fuss recipes in their arsenal. In my arsenal, one favored ingredient for quick meals is buckwheat soba noodles. Once you have the water boiling the noodles go in for just 3 minutes. I am being generous in saying that this meal took 15 minutes from start to plate.

The evening that I enjoyed this dish I was dining alone. The particular brand of soba noodles that I buy has four bundles of noodles per package, and one bundle is perfect for one hearty serving. You could easily multiply this recipe to feed more, but you may want to enjoy this alone because there are 3 large cloves of garlic per serving (!). Trust me, this is not as overpowering as it might sound. Rather than crushing or mincing the garlic, use your best knife* and slice it into thin chips (but not Goodfellas-thin). Cut your garlic chips in half once, and then they are ready to fry. Lightly brown the garlic chips in oil for crispy, super-delicious goodness, being careful not to burn them (super not-delicious). Garlic lovers, this one is for you.

Quick Garlicky Soba Noodles with Asparagus
Serves 1

3.25 oz buckwheat soba noodles (give or take)
1-1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic, trimmed, peeled, halved and sliced (see above)
1 medium shallot, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
3 - 4 tbsp Bragg's liquid aminos, divided (or tamari, or soy sauce)
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
10 stalks of asparagus, woody ends removed, chopped into 1" pieces

Prepare soba noodles according to packaging. When finished boiling, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Toast the sesame seeds in a large dry skillet over medium heat, stirring often. Once they are lightly browned and aromatic remove them from heat and pour them into a small bowl and set a side.

Heat the olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Stir in the garlic chips. They will start sizzling in the oil, watch them carefully and stir often. At the first signs of light brown stir in the shallots, and fry for a minute. Add a tbsp of Bragg's to deglaze the pan, which will also help prevent the garlic from burning. Continue to fry the shallots and garlic for 2-3 more minutes, until the shallots are softened, adding a litte bit of Bragg's one more time when the liquid cooks off.

Stir in your asparagus and fry for 3-4 minutes, adding a little bit of Bragg's as needed to keep things moistened. After a few minutes test a piece of asparagus and if it is crunchy-tender, it is done. Pour in your noodles into the pan but before stirring drizzle the sesame oil, 2 tbsp of Bragg's (or to taste), and sesame seeds directly on the noodles. Now toss everything together, and heat through. My total measurement for Bragg's is an estimate since I added a little bit at a time as I went, so you will want to taste the noodles and adjust as needed for your preference. (If anything my measurement is a little bit conservative). For a spicy kick stir in a bit of sriracha sauce or crushed red pepper.



*Speaking of knives, please indulge me and allow me to show off my new one!



















I knew that my cutlery was not up to par (hello stringy cuts of celery and smushed tomatoes!), but I had no idea how really bad my knives were until I started using my new one. When I was researching knife options I discovered ceramic cutlery. Have you heard of this? I hadn't, but I was intrigued by the claims of being light-weight, super sharp, and always delivering clean cuts. Reading customer reviews of various ceramic knives the only negatives I found were that they cannot be used on bone-in meat (no problem there) and there is risk of chipping if dropped on the floor. Since I am not in the habit of dropping my knives on the floor I thought I would do well with a ceramic knife. I went with the black 6" ceramic chef's knife by Zayka (which comes with a free ceramic peeler, score!). When my knife starts to get dull I can send it in for a free sharpening (which is typical since ceramic knives cannot be sharpened at home). Though I am starting to think that even at it's dullest, this knife is still going to be better than any other knife I have ever owned. A good knife really does make all the difference, doesn't it? Haha, can you tell how happy I am?? If you are so inclined to share, I'd love to hear about your favorite knife and/or your experience with ceramic knives. 

I'll leave you with another clip from Goodfellas, my favorite scene. Being a typical girl, my favorite scene in this mobster movie is Karen's first date with Henry at the Copacabana night club. Swoon!


33 comments:

  1. I love soba noodles1 I actually have some sitting in my pantry right now, so thatnks for the great recipe idea! It looks really delicious!

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  2. I love soba noodles and that too with asparagus is yummy! Do send this to my event, it is perfect!

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  3. Ahh, a good knife is all you need...most of the time! My first set was a henckel, but then I discovered wustoff. I've never looked back. When I find myself in kitchens without good knifes it's almost like a house without running water! I have yet to try ceramic knives but I have heard lots about them!

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  4. I love soba noodles, this looks like the perfect comfort meal! :)

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  5. I am all for a quick, easy, healthy recipe. This totally fits the bill. YUM

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  6. lol...new knives make me seriously happy too! This meal look delicious-- thanks for sharing!

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  7. 15 minutes? That sounds perfect!

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  8. I love soba noodles too, but unfortunately my boy friend is not too fond of them. I'll make sure I try your recipe once I get asparagus from my farmer, because it looks pretty tasty and doesn't require too many ingredients.

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  9. I'm always amazed at how soba noodles bulk up. I add more because I think I won't have enough and then I have soba noodles coming out my ears. I would love this for dinner. As for knives, I have many that I like but interestingly, not a ceramic one. I am always looking for new equipment, so I think I will try one.

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  10. Spring is in the air with asparagus popping up everywhere! Love a quick meal like this, looks delicious! Congrats on the new knife - new cutlery really steps up the fire in the kitchen, I haven't sprung yet myself but now I think I'm suffering a little knife envy. :) I hadn't seen Goodfellas until this year, but now I'm 3 times in and love it!!

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  11. I've never heard of ceramic knives before, but I'm intrigued! I tend to cut myself when I'm chopping veggies, but I think it's because my knives are too dull, not vice versa... I'll have to check it out :)

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  12. This looks simple and yummy and wholesome, all in one! Soba is the bestest.

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  13. Mmmmmmmmm,lovely, a good night in : )

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  14. nice knife! ceramic knives are always on my wish lists for birthdays, but i am still waiting!

    i love the idea of garlic chips - yum!

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  15. thanks for cooking up something special for green gourmet! Nevertheless, I still love this dish and it is bookmarked!

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  16. Yum that's a delicious looking easy weeknight meal. Love all the garlic in it! I should really use soba noodles more often. I bought one good knife almost 2 years ago and sadly haven't sharpened it so it is no good for cutting tomatoes, etc. :( It came with a sharpener but I'm scared to use it. (It's not a ceramic knife - it's a Wusthof.)

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  17. This meal is definitely perfect for one of those nights when you get home and just want real food fast. I love how you let the garlic and asparagus shine here.

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  18. This is my kind of recipe. Whole grain + veg = WIN!

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  19. Hee hee I love this post! I love the movie clips, the garlic, and the knife talk- I'm addicted to chopping and dicing and slicing. I'm very interested in this ceramic knife business, thanks for sharing. Your new knife is lovely- and I think you could moonlight as a hand model.

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  20. What a lovely recipe! And the perfect time of year for it while asparagus is in season :) This is totally something I could make on the road. I just love how quickly soba noodles can be cooked!

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  21. Okay, I just figured out where the last of my matcha soba noodles are going. This looks like the perfect dish for a quick spring meal!

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  22. This looks DELICIOUS! I love those quick no fail recipes, and this one looks like a definite winner. Seriously, what a gorgeous combination of flavors and textures.

    I'm also drooling over your new knife! This summer for my birthday I'm going to splurge on a few really high quality knives. I've never had any nice ones before and I figure, as much as I cook, I should!

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  23. Alone?? What's that like again? Will you kids keep it down? What's that, honey, you can't find your keys? Oh, where was I? :-) The dish looks great! I think I've heard of ceramic knives but have never seen one in person. A good knife can not be over-appreciated. Glad you found one you like.

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  24. I have never heard of ceramic knives and would like to try one but I love the heaviness of my knife which helps a lot - sometimes it seems as important as sharpness - and i confess I drop my knife - not a lot but too often to believe I would never drop a ceramic knife - my favourites are a mondial chef's knife and a little fruit and veg serrated knife.

    Love your soba noodles too - seems an ideal dinner for one

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  25. I love the idea of using shallots with soba noodles. Yum. Good idea!

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  26. I'm so glad you enjoyed my pics. :) Yeah, the height difference thing is pretty funny!

    Yay, glad you got a new great knife you love! Personally I love the Miracle Blade knives and will never use anything else, they rock. But they are sharrrrppp!

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  27. OH my goodness, this is exactly what I need to eat - particularly after a weekend of too much wine and greasy food! I just bought a bunch of asparagus and I happen to have these noodles in the pantry! Will whip this up for lunch! Thanks for the recipe!

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  28. Hey Sarah! Thanks for your comment on my blog. :) Yeah, I know that Whole Foods' nutritional yeast isn't B-12 fortified... but I inherited that container from my parents, so I wasn't going to complain. Next time I buy some, I'll definitely make sure I get the B-12 variety! In the meantime, I take a sublingual B-12 supplement whenever I remember to do so.

    I've always been intrigued by ceramic knives - yours sounds great! I might have to invest in one...

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  29. Ooh, I love soba noodles, and asparagus! This looks delicious.

    You new knife looks fab. I don't think I've ever used a ceramic knife, but they sound great! Using a good knife while chopping makes cooking SUCH a nice experience. Dull knives suck the fun out of it! :)

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