While taking some leisure time to browse through a few food blogs recently (read: two hours at my desk when I should have been working), I happened upon the blog event They Go Really Well Together, hosted by blog.khymos.org (“dedicated to molecular gastronomy”). The gist of the event is that two or more seemingly mis-matched flavors are paired according to their molecular compatibility (a la Fat Duck), said compatibility not always apparent to those deficient in the chef’s olfactory supremacy (such as moi).
Then I got to thinking, it’s true; some ostensibly odd couplings do actually work well together: Sonny and Cher, purple and mustard yellow walls (but only for the previous tenant, not us), Elsie and Chaser, paisley and–hmmn. Well, Sonny and Cher, anyway.
This pasta dish, a favorite in our house, is one of those weird couplings: rhyme off the ingredients one at a time and they sound not like a recipe but more like a grocery list jotted in haste on the back of an envelope, its disparate elements each appealing on its own, but not meant to share space in a simmering pot. Yet, when tossed together haphazardly as we tend to do over here, the result is pure delight.
I must admit, I have a tendency to be remiss about planning meals even at the best of times (“Does that make you bad, Mum? Bad Girl! Can we have your treats, then?”), but during times such as these, when I’m inundated with midterm assignments and hillocks of tests to mark, I’m lucky if I have a passing thought about dinner as I turn the key in the front door at 6:00 PM. Okay, I’m exaggerating, just a little. 5:58 PM.
And so this pasta is our saviour many a busy night. It comes together incredibly quickly, basically in the time it takes to boil and drain the noodles. I’m sure I’ve seen variations of this combination floating about on the Internet, but since we were introduced to the recipe this way, we like to stick with it.
The dish combines soba noodles, the Japanese version of spaghetti, with the agreeable combination of ginger, soy sauce, and chard. It’s also a great way to incorporate more greens into your cooking, as the chard shrinks down until it’s barely noticeable, never overtaking the toasted nuts. The sprinkling of chili flakes provides a pleasant hint of spice that lingers on the palate. And it’s enough, on its own, for a satisfying light dinner.
We got the original recipe from the newsletter we receive each week with our organic produce delivery. We’ve tweaked it slightly, but not much. And since it truly is a presto! pasta, I’m submitting this to the weekly Presto Pasta night event, hosted by Ruth at Once Upon a Feast.
Soba Noodles with Ginger, Chard and Walnuts
This is a great recipe for a quick and easy dinner. Nuts combined with the whole-grain noodles provide a complete protein in this meal, and the chard adds a bevy of minerals and vitamins. [And isn't it cute how the pasta and the plate are all kind of the same colors?]
1 package (about 1 lb/500 g.) soba noodles (we use Sobaya, kamut-buckwheat)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1″ (2.5 cm) piece ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp. (or more, to taste) chili flakes
2-4 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce, depending on your taste
1/4 cup water
1 large head chard, washed, ribs removed, and chopped into large pieces
1/2 cup toasted walnut pieces
nutritional yeast (or, for the omnivores, grated parmesan cheese)
Fill a large pot with water and set it boiling for the soba noodles. When the water boils, add the noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
At the same time as the water heats, begin the sauce. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil and add the garlic and ginger. Saute until the garlic begins to brown (don’t worry if the mixture sticks a bit to the bottom of the pot). Add the chili flakes and stir for another 30 seconds or so.
Deglaze the pan by pouring the soysauce over the garlic and ginger mixture; the browned bits should come loose. Add the water and chard, and stir to coat the chard and allow it to wilt a bit, 2-3 minutes. Toss in the walnuts, turn down the heat and cover the pot.
By now, your noodles should either be ready or just about ready. As soon as the noodles are done, add them to the pot with the chard mixture, and toss to distribute the mixture and coat the noodles. Serve immediately, sprinkled with nutritional yeast. Makes 4 entree servings.
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WOCA Update: So. Three days down. But I’m hanging in there I want chocolate. It’s tough, but with effort, I’ll persevere Must. Have. Some. Give me some. I knew before I started that I’d have a hard time giving up my favorite food Chocolate. NOWGivemeNOW. But I mustn’t capitulate, or all is lost! No; there will be no chocolate in the GimmesomeNOW. No, no chocolate! Chocolate is verboten. Choco–NOW, I said. You know you want it. Go on, just have some. . . NO! Chocolate is my downfall, every time! Absolutely no chocolate. No–Eat it. Eat it now. Yummy, creamy, sweet, deliciou–Back, stay BACK, you sweet satan! Chocolate must be eradicated! Chocolate is the devil! Chocolate is–Just take some. So what if it’s fattening. Who cares if it’s bad for you. C’mon. Just take one, just a little piece. . . I won’t tell if you don’t. Okay, I’ll pay you. You can have my comic book collection. You can have my wedding band (the one from the first marriage). You can have my–OUT, OUT, DAMNED CHOCOLATE!! A POX ON YOU, I SAY! LEAVE ME! AVAUNT AND BE GONE! LEAVE ME IN PEACE!! leave me. . . . .leave. . . me. . . .
Ahem. Well. This may be just a tad more difficult than I anticipated.