This weekend I fixed one of my favorite recipes from The Green's Cookbook by Deborah Madison, Chinese Noodle Salad with Roasted Eggplant. In the cookbook, it states that this recipe is one of the most popular dishes that the restaurant serves. That's quite an honor considering the fact that Greens has so many excellent dishes on their menu. The salad can be make ahead in segments, at your leisure. In fact, the noodles taste better if they're cooked as much as a day before you complete the salad. Then you can add the vegetables just before you serve it.
This recipe makes a substantial amount of salad, a meal in itself. We were only able to eat half of it, which meant there was plenty for lunch the next day. The vegetables were still crunchy even after that, because they were sitting on top of the noodles, without any of the dressing on them. The salad gets more pungent after a day sitting in the fridge, and is even better tasting. You'll smell quite pungent yourself after eating it.
You can serve the salad on individual plates. But the easiest thing to do is to layer it in a large bowl and let everyone help themselves and mix the salad on their plate. Here are the noodles with the bean sprouts on top.
And finally, the carrots, cilanto and chopped nuts or sesame seeds. I used cashews instead of sesame seeds this time. You can use other vegetables in the salad, such as asparagus or thinly shredded radishes.
This dish is always a big hit when I serve it. So, I don't doubt that they sell quite a few plates of it at Greens restaurant.
Chinese Noodle Salad with Roasted Eggplant (The Green's Cookbook by Deborah Madison)
The Noodles and The Marinade:
7 Tbs toasted sesame oil
7 Tbs soy sauce
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
3-4 Tbs sugar
2-½ tsp salt
8-10 scallions, the white part and some of the firm green part, thinly sliced into rounds
3 Tbs cilantro, chopped
1 14 oz package of fresh Chinese egg noodles, the thinnest possible
Begin by making the marinade. Combine all the, ingredients (except the noodles) in a bowl, and stir them together until the sugar has dissolved.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While it's boiling fluff the noodles to separate and then add them to the boiling unsalted water. Cook them briefly for a few minutes until done, but not overly soft. Immediately pour them into a colander, rinse them with cold water to cool then shake the colander vigorously to remove excess water. Place the noodles to a large bowl, stir the marinade and pour half of it over the cooked noodles, tossing them with your hands to distribute the dressing evenly. Set the remaining marinade aside. If the noodles won't’t to be used for a while, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The flavors will actually develop better if they rest in the fridge.
For the eggplant and vegetable garnishes:
1 lb firm, shiny Japanese or Chinese eggplants
1 Tbs fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup snow peas, strings removed
½ lb mung bean sprouts
3 Tbs sesame seeds, or roasted cashews or peanuts toasted in a skillet until lightly colored
1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
Cilantro leaves, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pierce the eggplants in several places, and bake them until they are soft and their skins have shriveled, about 20, depending on their size turning after 10 minutes. When the eggplants are done, slice them in half lengthwise and when they are cool enough to handle, peel the skin away from the flesh and shred the flesh into 1/4 inch strips. Add the ginger and garlic to the reserved dressing, and then add the eggplant strips. mix the mixture well to thoroughly coat the eggplant and set it aside.
Bring a medium pot of water, salted with a teaspoon of salt, to a boil. Blanch the snow peas until they are bright green, about 20 seconds. Remove them with a strainer, and rinse with cool water. Cut them into long, thin strips, and set them aside. Next, put the sprouts into the boiling water, and cook for about 20 seconds. Pour them into a colander, rinse them with cold water, and lay them on a layer of paper towels to dry. If using sesame seeds, toast in a skillet for about 15 seconds.
If the noodles have been refrigerated, allow them to come to room temperature; then toss them with the eggplant and reserved marinade, as well as half of the sesame seeds or other nuts. Mound them on a platter, and distribute the carrots, mung bean sprouts, and snow peas over them. Garnish with the remaining sesame seeds/nuts and some cilantro. Once served, guests can toss the noodles and vegetables together to thoroughly mingle the textures and flavors.
Serves four to six