Chilled noodle salads make perfect warmer weather meals as they are simultaneously refreshing and satisfying. Here, the earthy flavor of soba noodles, made from a combination of buckwheat and wheat, are enlivened by tangy rice-vinegar-pickled cucumbers and a zippy dressing made with ginger and shiso. Read more
The noodles have multiple names – cellophane, long rice, rice stick, glass – all referring to the same long, gelatinous noodles found in Chinese and Southeast Asian cooking. They start out white and once softened, become almost translucent. Used in soups, stir fry, salads and desserts, cellophane noodles actually have very little flavor of their own, BUT they act as sponges and soak up the flavor of ingredients they’re partnered with. Nutritionally speaking, cellophane noodles are gluten free, fat free and a 1/2 cup serving dishes up 8% of your daily requirement for iron, important for oxygen transport in the body. And although they’re similar in size and texture to angel hair pasta, cellophane noodles have a low glycemic index, meaning they don’t cause a spike in blood sugar, important for maintaining even blood sugar levels.
I felt like writing about unique noodles this week – cool varieties that probably weren’t in your grandma’s pantry. One of my favorites is black, regular pasta that’s been infused with squid ink. The black ink lends a brilliant flavor of the sea (slightly salty, mildly sweet). I also love brown rice noodles because they’re 100% whole grain, gluten-free and a good source of fiber (4 grams in 2 ounces). They’re also light, making them ideal for richer sauces like Pad Thai and my spicy curry sauce below. Lastly, I adore soba noodles. Made from buckwheat, they’re loaded with nutrients and incredibly hearty (and surprisingly, they contain almost half the calories of regular white flour pasta). Soba noodles are also excellent cold (the Japanese rely on cold noodle dishes during their sizzling hot/humid summers).
Not only did I create three recipes for each of the three types of noodles, I made sure they were from different parts of the globe. The squid ink recipe is Italian-inspired, the brown rice noodles boast the flavor of India and the soba noodles are distinctly Asian. And get this, for you brown-baggers out there, all three dishes are excellent served cold or room temperature.