Hello hotness, meet your nemesis: cold soba noodles. Chewy and naturally gluten-free, soba noodles make The Perfect Summer Pasta Salad, robust enough to deliver the heat of chiles, the bite of fresh herbs, and whatever savory tasties you have on hand. (If you notice that I often suggest adding random treasures from your cooler to dishes, it’s because that’s how I exist and cook. It’s the challenge, the satisfaction in repurposing leftovers, of not wasting food, of creating something new. Also, I am lazy.)
There are two tricks when working with soba noodles: do not over-cook them, and rinse them very, very well in cold water. As in, rinse and rinse and rinse. Also, while the salad is quite tasty upon completion, it tastes even better after chilling for a couple of hours—the noodles absorb a bit of the dressing and the herbs bloom and meld.
I added fresh mint and basil to this version, but of course cilantro would be delicious. While I topped mine with leftover pork, chicken, shrimp, or tofu would all be lovely additions. Toss in a handful of shredded carrots or cabbage. Top with shelled edamame or fresh peas. Pickled vegetables make everything better and would be particularly delightful here. Make this salad all summer long, changing it up each time. See? Truly The Perfect Summer Pasta Salad.
Cold Soba Noodles with Fresh Herbs, Cucumber & Pork
8 oz. soba noodles
1/4 c. each thinly sliced basil, cilantro, and/or mint
handful or two of arugula leaves
1/2 c. thinly sliced scallions
1/2 c. thinly sliced cucumber
1 c. cooked pork, pulled into small pieces
toasted sesame seeds
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger
1 serrano chile, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water for several minutes, tossing as you go, until all the starch is washed away from the noodles. Drain thoroughly and add to a large bowl.
Add the herbs, arugula, scallions, and cucumber to the noodles.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Toss until herbs and vegetables are evenly distributed. Chill for 2-3 hours. Serve in bowls topped with shredded pork and toasted sesame seeds.