Every Tuesday it’s my turn to make lunch for all of the kids at my son’s homeschooling cooperative. It’s tricky—while I want to make a lunch that all the kids will find tasty, I also want to use the opportunity to challenge their palates and open them up to new flavors. This is easy because A) there is a “courtesy portion” rule meaning that every kid has to try at least a bite or two before refusing to eat it and B) I know that there is sliced bread and some type of nut butter available as an emergency sandwich backup.
The most reliable way that I have found to get kids into new flavors is by introducing them via a familiar package. Some of the past lunches were lamb meatballs with the new flavor being lamb, and the familiar being the meatball-and-sauce package. Or, instead of rice and black beans, I made rice and lentils (mujadara).
Yesterday (Tuesday) I found myself quite flustered in the morning. You see, I’m used to working on pretty intense deadlines and I just made it through a wild twelve-week cookbook project that required I be at top game and also be hyper-organized. I turned the manuscript into my editor at Clarkson Potter on Monday afternoon, meaning that by Tuesday morning I was moving at zombie-speed. I tend to unravel a bit after a deadline, I’m loose and forgetful, I’m hazy, I’m sleepy. It subsides after a week or so. But I acknowledge that, yes, I get a bit dippy after a deadline (a huge sorry to the effervescent and ridiculously talented Melissa Clark who I interviewed one day post-deadline while I was at my floppiest).
So I found myself on Tuesday morning not knowing what to make for the kids. I nearly made (gasp!) pasta with butter and cheese. Shame on me, I thought. I opened the cupboards, rooted around, and came out triumphantly grasping a baton of soba noodles and a bottle of soy sauce. Kids love soy sauce and they certainly love spaghetti, so they’d surely love sesame soba noodles. Add ribboned carrots and chopped snow peas plus a dab of peanut butter and ginger for crunch, color, depth, and brightness and I had an easy-to-love meal that took (thankfully) barely a brain cell to make.
**I’m trying out a new recipe style below. Do you find it easier to follow? It seems that traditional recipe format doesn’t necessarily translate so well to blog-recipes, so am tinkering with recipe presentation. Would love to hear your thoughts!
Sesame Soba Noodles with Carrots and Snow Peas
Serves 4 to 6
This is a fantastic make-ahead dish. The sauce, noodles, and cooked snow peas can happily sit out at room temperature for hours without being compromised—keep the sauce separate from the noodles and wait to toss just before serving.
1. In a medium bowl whisk together:
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1/2 tablespoon honey
Use a teaspoon to scrape the skin off of a:
- 1-inch piece gingerroot
Grate the ginger into the bowl with the soy mixture, stir, and set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add:
- 2 bundles soba noodles (about 6 ounces)
Once the noodles have about 1 minute left to cook (when you bite into a strand, it will have a slightly opaque center), add to the pot:
- 1 snow peas, thinly sliced on a bias
Boil the soba and snow peas for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until both are tender and the snow peas are bright green. Drain through a sieve and then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking and prevent the noodles from sticking together. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl stir in:
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3. Using a vegetable peeler, shave:
- 2 medium peeled carrots
Once the carrots are completely ribboned, roughly chop the ribbons into confetti-like bits. Add the carrots and the sauce to the noodles and stir to combine. Serve with:
- Fresh cilantro