I know we're deep into Fall now and that the food blog gods have deemed that it is time to flood the internet with apple, pumpkin and squash goodies, but the truth of it is, that last week we needed a little break from the flavors of the season, so I reverted back to this very un-fall like dish that I'd been dying to try all summer but didn't get to and that my husband is now madly in love with (and me too, hopefully). It's a vegetarian paradise, full of so much flavor and texture, that I hope I can convince you to jump on the seasonally rebellious bandwagon with me for at least a day!!
Don't get me wrong, I love apples, pears, squash and pumpkin as much as the next person, but in the last few weeks it seems like we've been overloading on autumn and our palettes needed a little cleanse. And what a worthy cleanse this amazing noodle dish is!!
It's chock full of eggplant, mango, basil, red onions and chili peppers all jockeying for position among chewy soba noodles. And everything is coated in a light, sweet, yet tangy Asian-style dressing. It's seriously good and with all those veggies in there, good for you too!
You start by heating vinegar, sugar and salt together and then tossing in some garlic, chile, sesame oil, lime zest and juice. As mentioned, this noodle extravaganza is not short on flavor!!
Next, you pan-fry the eggplant until it's golden brown and tender, eventually draining it in a colander to remove more of the moisture.
Meanwhile, you cook the soba noodles--
Cut up the mango--
And toss everything together in one big bowl! So many amazing ingredients in each mouthful and so pretty to look at too! It's light but substantial enough to serve as a meatless main course. And fun to eat--we all loved slurping up those yummy soba noodles!
Serve this to a vegetarian and they will love you forever! Or to anyone in this family of omnivores too! Yes, sometimes a little rebellion is a good thing!!
Mango & Eggplant Soba Noodles
Makes 6 entree-sized servings, would serve more as a side dish
Prep Time: 1 hour
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 fresh red chile, chopped finely (use less if you don't like too much spice)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 cup sunflower or canola oil
2 medium eggplants, cut into small cubes
Salt to taste
8 or 9 ounces soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, peeled and cut into a small dice
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (you can use more if you really love basil)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1. Place the vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat for about a minute or so, until the sugar dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the garlic, chile and sesame oil. Let cool for about 10 minutes and add the lime zest and juice.
2. Place the oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Fry the eggplant in 3-4 batches, trying not to crowd the pan too much. When the cubes are golden brown and tender, remove them with a slotted spoon, allowing the oil to drain back into the skillet, and transfer to a large colander set over some paper towels or a bowl. Sprinkle the eggplant with some salt and allow it to drain.
3. While eggplant is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the noodles for 5-8 minutes, stirring them every now and then, until they're softened but still chewy. When noodles are done, drain and rinse them under cold water. Shake off as much water as possible and then spread them out a towel to dry.
4. When the noodles have dried a bit, place them into a large bowl along with the mango, eggplant, basil, parsley and onion and pour the dressing over everything. Toss well. You can either serve this immediately or leave it at room temperature for a few hours to allow the flavors to really come together.
5. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.
Note: Recipe adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I toyed around with some of the spices and measurements and subbed in parsley for the cilantro.