I spent a lot of time in the kitchen last week, prepping and preserving in anticipation for the PDX Food Swap. Truth be told, I haven’t been spending a ton of time in the kitchen as of late. Life has been busy and chaotic and I just haven’t had a lot of time or energy for creative kitchen projects. But, the PDX Food swap was looming in the distance and I just couldn’t stomach the idea of going to the swap empty-handed.
So, I carved out some time in my week and forced myself to get into the kitchen. Over the course of a couple days, I cooked and created and canned and preserved. I made a giant mess of my kitchen, but it was totally worth it.
I felt accomplished and inspired…and strangely relaxed. Cooking has that effect on me, I suppose.
Of all the things I cooked this past week, I think this soba salad is my favorite. The chard and miso pesto is earthy and savory, dark and uniquely delicious. (Truthfully, it isn’t really a pesto at all. I just wasn’t sure what else to call it.) The savory pesto paired beautifully with the natural sweetness of the roasted carrots, and let me tell you, it made for a damn good soba noodle salad.
(Also: I begrudgingly brought a couple of jars of the chard and miso ‘pesto’ to the PDX Food Swap, but I selfishly wanted to keep it all to myself. It’s too good.)
- 1 bunch swiss chard
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1/4 cup red miso paste
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 package soba noodles
- 1 bunch rainbow carrots (or 5-6 regular carrots)
- 1.5 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
- Green onions, ends trimmed and sliced thinly (for garnish)
- Roast the carrots (can be done ahead of time): Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and trim carrots (do not peel). If your carrots are very thin/small, you may leave them whole. If the carrots are thick, slice in half (or quarters) lengthwise. Pat the carrots dry and place in a bowl. Toss with sesame oil, honey, red chili flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Lay the carrots in a single layer on a lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until browned and fork tender. When cooked to your liking, remove from the oven and set aside until use.
- Place a large pot of salted water on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, wash the chard and trim off the stems. Set stems aside. Roughly chop the chard leaves. When the water is boiling, add the chard leaves into the water and stir to combine. Blanch chard in the water for 2-3 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove chard and transfer to a bowl. Reserve the pot water.
- Using a food processor (or blender), blend the blanched chard, garlic, miso paste, and rice vinegar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally, and blend until a smooth paste forms. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Taste, and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Bring the pot of reserved blanching water to a boil. Cook the soba noodles in the water, according to package directions. Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss the soba noodles with the chard pesto. Add a few teaspoons of the pesto at a time, until the noodles are evenly coated. (Extra pesto can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge) Taste, and season with salt, pepper, or red chili flakes as needed. Serve at room temperature and garnish with roasted carrots and sliced green onions.
- Note: I adapted this recipe from Chow, and they chose to sauté the chard stems in oil before tossing them in the soba salad. I chose to go another route with the stems, and quick-pickled them in a mixture of rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. I was pretty pleased with my pickled chard stems, and thought they made a crunchy, bright, and briny addition to the salad.