I love reading cookbooks. I read them like novels, but it is rare that I make almost every recipe from a particular cookbook. I find them inspirational and only cook a few recipes from them. I just recently opened a cookbook that blew my mind and I want to cook almost every recipe in it. It is Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. It is a vegetarian cookbook from the guy that writes the vegetarian column in the Guardian. (London newspaper) He also has several restaurants in London.
I am really trying to have vegetables be the show case of our family meals and meat, the compliment. I want my son to crave vegetables. I want to crave vegetables more then fries. This kind of recipe answers this desire. These soba noodles with eggplant and mango are so flavor packed, that I wanted to lick the bowl when I was finished.
Okay, now I am going to bitch for a moment. There are a lot of typos in this book. At least, in the kindle version of it. For example, in this recipe it says that I need 12/3 cup of basil. What? Thank goodness I am a confident cook and knew how to switch this up, but just beware of this, if you buy the book. I also used agave nectar in place of sugar, because I am watching my sugar intake. I also added fresh mint because it just seemed like it should be in there.
You can serve this as a starter or add some fried tofu to make it a main dish. I had some left over and ate it for lunch the next day.
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 T. sugar (2 T. agave nectar)
1/2 t. salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 fresh red chile, finely chopped
1 t. sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup sunflower oil
2 eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch dice
8 to 9 oz. soba noodles (I used two neat little bundles)
1 large mango or 2 small mangos, peeled, diced or cut into strips
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn
2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
1. In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar, and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves.
2. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chile and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.
3. Heat up the sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow fry the eggplant in three or four batches. Once golden brown remove to a colander , sprinkle liberally with salt and leave there to drain.
4. Cook noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. It takes 5 to 8 minutes. I would lean toward the 5 minute side of this to keep them al dente. Drain and rinse well under running cold water.
5. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a dish towel.
6. In a mixing bowl, toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, eggplant, half the herbs and onions. You can even leave it aside for 1 to 2 hours.
7. When ready to serve add in the rest of the herbs and mix well, then pile on a plate or in a bowl.
I made this ahead and served it to friends as a side dish. It has a big wow impact when you place this beautiful dish on the table. I had it made it ahead and all the prep dishes cleaned up before my guests got there. Love that. You will love the tang, sweet, and heat in this dish. It is summer in the middle of winter. This is just a great recipe. My hat is off to you, Yotam Ottolenghi. Thanks for the inspiration.
Pull up a chair, Elizabeth