Soba Noodle Salad with Winter Vegetables and Sweet Kumquats

A classic Asian salad made with winter vegetables, almost everything is from the farmer’s market. The carrots, the radishes, the tatsoi, and the kumquats. The kumquats were a last minute addition, as they sat next to my cutting board, winking at me.

A little voice in the back of my head whispered, they are Asian, too….As I thought of all the Chinese dishes (real classic Chinese or Americanized?) that include lemon or orange as the main flavor profile (think Duck a l’orange), I’m sure that I would not be the first to add a few kumquats to this.

Mind you, these are the sweet kumquats, the little round kumquats Meiwa, which are world of difference to the more widely available tart oval kumquats.  It’s like biting into a piece of candied orange zest.  Every once in a while you just get the really bright bite of orange.  You can look at the addition of the sweet kumquats this way: in the summer, we add supersweet and crunchy red, green, and orange bell peppers to salads.  In the winter, we have other options.

For the salad you will need any combination of the following.  This will give you a nice rainbow assortment of colors.  The classic ingredients (I think), are simply green onions and cucumbers which are widely available during the warm months, but not so much in the dead of winter.  If you do not have access to sweet kumquats, a few slivers of orange zest should add a nice citrus zing to the salad.

  • About 1 cup of carrots, slivered on the diagonal
  • 4 to 5 radishes, sliced thinly
  • 1 to 2 cups fresh greens, we used tat soi, but any other green is good
  • 1/2 cup fresh green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced, if available
  • 2 to 4 round, sweet kumquats, slivered in halves with the seeds removed
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 8 to 12 ounces soba noodles, cooked according to package directions
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A rainbow assortment of winter vegetables, and a bright kick of sweet Meiwa kumquats.

Prep all the veggies and set aside. Toast the sesame seeds in a skillet just for a few minutes; set aside.  Cook the soba noodles according to the package directions. The package I used was just over 12 ounces, and the cooking directions were to cook for only 3 minutes and rinse under cold water.

For the dressing:

6 tablespoons peanut butter
6 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled
2 to 4 cloves fresh garlic, or about 1 1/2 tablespoons minced
5 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Blend the dressing in a blender or using an immersion blender. Taste and adjust to your preference. Can be made in advance. Bring to room temperature before adding to salad, if needed.

To make the salad:  Mix well.  This salad is best served at room temperature.  To serve leftovers, remove from fridge an hour or so before eating.

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The prepped veggies, and slivered sweet kumquats ready to go on the noodles.

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A rainbow of winter vegetables over cooked soba noodles.

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Adding the dressing…

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Soba Noodle Salad with winter vegetables and sweet kumquats, ready to serve.

Note: tatsoi is a type of bok choy.  It is also on cabbage family.  It has a slight mustardy taste; even though the lady at the farmer’s market told me it tasted like spinach.  Nope.  Mustard.   I was hoping this strong dressing would cover the taste, and it did.  I much prefer the bok choy that they grow as baby bokchoys.

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