Another week, another adventure… It’s been a hectic three months! Last week I was spending time in my ‘ole stomping grounds – Eureka Springs, AR – a picturesque town nestled in the Ozark Mountains where I grew up and return to often to visit my mom, dad, and sister who live there and seek a little respite at our lake cottage. Whenever we come to Eureka Springs, crossing the Beaver Bridge (above) – an historic one-lane wooden suspension bridge declares,”We’re here!”. Fortunately, the bridge reopened a few days before my trip after being submerged under the rising water for the past month and a half!
I hadn’t been to the lake since February and needed to check on the house after two months of the most violent spring storms the area has seen in decades. We’re 100 miles from Joplin, MO and the tornado that devastated Joplin took its toll on the surrounding area as did several colossal thunder storms which wreaked havoc with high winds, lightning, and days of being deluged with massive rainfall resulted in major flooding in the area.
It’s a good thing that I made the trip because the sun room showed evidence of water damage and the house was either hit by lightening or a power surge because the refrigerator, TV, DVD player, modem, router, and fax machine were all non-functional – minor damage compared to what many others have lost to be sure, but still enough to contribute to the massive amount of insurance claims being handled by Allstate’s National Catastrophe Team.
The view from our deck and being able to kick back and get off the fast track for a few days of tranquility makes it all worthwhile…
Only June and the weather was already 90 degrees hot and humid, you have to walk early and spend the rest of the day boating, jet skiing, water skiing, wave running, or listlessly floating on the water like I do. It was nice coming home to more comfortable temps and a garden bursting with lettuce, green beans, and zucchini. I have two zucchini recipes up my sleeve, but for now here’s a simple glad-to-be-home summer recipe packed with fresh flavors of basil, sweet carrot, and bright citrus on top of crunchy veggies and cool, slippery noodles.
Soba Noodle Salad with Peanut-Ginger Dressing
8 ounces soba noodles or whole wheat linguine or spaghetti
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 cup Peanut-Ginger Dressing (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons basil chiffonade*
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lime
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
4 scallions, trimmed and julienned
5 oz. bag organic mixed baby greens
Garnish with carrots, red peppers, parsley, chives, and/or chopped peanuts.
1.Prepare the soba noodles or whole wheat pasta as directed on the package. Drain, rinse with cold water, toss with sesame oil in colander, and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, toss the noodles, dressing, basil, orange zest and lime zest.
3. Add the cucumbers, scallions, and greens, and toss gently. Garnish.
4. Toss with the dressing just before serving.
Variations: Feel free to add snow peas, sugar snap peas, julienned yellow bell pepper, sprouts, julienned carrots, toasted sesame seeds, or chopped peanuts.
Other greens such as arugula, kale, spinach, or Napa cabbage can be substituted for the mixed baby greens, too.
Makes 1 ¾ cups
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons peeled, grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup canola or safflower oil
First, use a microplane (a must-have kitchen tool) for the orange and lime zest. (I had those cute always-sweet mandarin oranges called “Cuties” in the fridge so used four of those in place of one orange.) Then, cut the fruit in half and squeeze the juices out.
In a medium bowl, whisk together everything but the oil. Slowly add the oil, and whisk until all the oil is incorporated. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 6 days.
* Not sure how to julienne carrots or chiffonade basil? What’s the difference between chopped, minced, diced? Here’s a very helpful video on knife skills by Food and Style. Viviane Bauquet Farre’s mesmerizes you with her charming accent and soothing voice, and she makes slicing and dicing seem so pleasant and effortless