This week at I Heart Cooking Clubs it is all about the Lunch Box, those Mark Bittman recipes to fill your up lunch box, lunch bag, bento box, special lunch plate, or whatever you like to put your lunch in. I didn't get a chance to run to the store so I turned to my favorite cookbook for quick and easy pantry meals, "Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express" and selected his Soba Noodles and Cucumber with Dipping Sauce.
I almost always have a pack or two of buckwheat soba on hand--it cooks quickly, it is both healthy and hearty, and it tastes great. Soba noodles are the perfect lunch to pack because they are often eaten cold, as in this recipe and there is no need to heat them. A note about buckwheat soba--there are different blends of soba noodles, with varying amounts of buckwheat. The more buckwheat in the noodles, the more rich in protein, lysine, minerals and B-vitamins they are. (These are 100% buckwheat from Eden Organic.) I decided to add some cooked shrimp from the freezer, and because I didn't have any scallions, I just topped mine with a shake of toasted sesame seeds.
Bittman says, "Perfect hot-weather food, add a bit of freshly grated ginger or wasabi for more spice and top with bits of cooked meat or tofu if you like."
Soba Noodles & Cucumber (+ Shrimp) with Dipping Sauce
Adapted from "Mark Bittman's Kitchen Express"
Boil and salt water for pasta; meanwhile, combine a quarter cup of chicken stock or water, three tablespoons of soy sauce, two tablespoons of mirin, and a teaspoon of sugar in a bowl; mix to dissolve the sugar. Cook the noodles for about four minutes, then rinse under cold water. Serve a nest of the noodles, along with sliced cucumbers in a bowl (set over ice cubes if you like), with a small bowl of the dipping sauce on the side, garnished with chopped scallions.
Notes/Results: Quick, easy, delicious, and perfect to fill a bento-style lunch box. Plus there is a certain zen-like kind of joy in dipping the noodles into the sauce and slurping them up at an audible volume. Lunch and entertainment! I recommend using a low-sodium soy sauce and lessening the amount a bit, to cut out the high sodium, but otherwise this is a light and healthy lunch or dinner. I would make this again.
You can check out what the other IHCC participants put in their lunch boxes by going to the post here and following the links.