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Veggie Soba Noodle Bowl – Keep Your Summer Cool

Written by Rebecca Peters-Golden

One of the nicest things about summer is that it stays light late enough for me to finish work, prepare a leisurely dinner, and enjoy eating outside as the sun sets—that is, when it’s finally cool enough to survive outside without melting.

By now, it’s probably clear that I’m a complete and total heat wimp.

I have no air conditioning in my kitchen, so it’s hot in there even before I turn on the oven or heat up pots and pans to cook.

soba noodle bowls with vegetables
Photo: Casey Barber

It used to be that I’d blast a fan and suffer through preparing the same kinds of dishes I eat in the winter: pastas and chicken and curries and stew.

This summer, though, I just couldn’t take it anymore. In fact, the very idea of sweating while I roasted vegetables or baked chicken sent me scrambling to order takeout.

But that wasn’t sustainable for very long, so I knew I needed some kind of plan. I couldn’t keep cooking the same way I do when it’s cool out, but I couldn’t go all summer without cooking, either.

In Clark Park, just a few blocks from my apartment in West Philly, there’s a farmer’s market every Saturday, where it’s easy to get affordable seasonal vegetables, fresh herbs, and locally raised meats.

soba noodle bowls with vegetables
Photo: Casey Barber

So, instead of falling into the takeout downward spiral or eating nothing but cheese and crackers all summer, I decided to cut the heat by focusing on recipes using the many summer veggies that are both delicious when eaten raw and available at the farmer’s market.

This way, I’m supporting local farmers, eating fresh produce, and saving money on takeout, all while not roasting to death in my kitchen and heating up my whole apartment just by turning on the oven.

The key to cooking with raw veggies is to make sure your flavors are intense.

You can do this by adding spice to chopped salads, vinegar to gazpacho, and keeping fresh pestos (like garlic scape pesto or fennel pesto) on hand that will brighten up any dish.

soba noodle bowl with vegetables
Photo: Casey Barber

Fresh herbs also turn simple vegetable preparations or salads into summery standouts.

My absolute favorite summer meal combines all these things: fresh local vegetables, a bold, garlicky sauce, and tons of fresh herbs.

It’s a sesame soba noodle bowl that’s light and cool enough for summer prep but also filling enough to eat any time.

This soba noodle bowl is similar to Vietnamese bún, a dish of rice noodles, veggies, fresh herbs, and grilled meat.

soba noodle bowls with vegetables

What I love so much about recipes like these are their contrasts—they combine warm and cold, cooked and raw, and soft and crunchy in one harmonious dish.

Soba noodles are the only component of this meal that gets cooked (and only for a few minutes, so don’t worry about the heat).

Traditional buckwheat soba noodles are hearty and filling, but feel free to play around with other noodle varieties like those made with black rice for a dramatic presentation, or chewy brown rice and wakame for a surprising but satisfying texture.

Need more variation? Try any of these additional ingredients.

Soba Noodle Bowl Add-Ins

  • Take a few cues from the methods used in my shaved Brussels sprout salad (and use that mandoline or slicer to your advantage here as well).
  • You can add other crunchy veggies like daikon or red radishes, raw or sautéed greens.
  • And if you’re less of a heat wimp than me (or, ah, have air conditioning in your kitchen), baked, grilled, or pan-fried salmon or chicken are great additions atop this bowl.
soba noodle bowl with vegetables

Soba Noodle Bowls

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

A soba noodle bowl is the ultimate solution for summer cooking—packed with crisp raw veggies, fresh herbs, and lots of flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce, if making vegetarian
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium teriyaki sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bundle soba noodles
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1 small seedless cucumber
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1 handful fresh parsley leaves

Instructions

  1. Whisk the fish sauce or soy sauce, vinegar, teriyaki sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes together in a large bowl.
  2. Fill a medium (2-quart) saucepan with water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the soba noodles and cook just until al dente, about 3 minutes.
  4. Drain and toss the noodles with the sauce.
  5. Let the noodles soak up the sauce while you slice the carrots and cucumber into thin matchsticks (or use a julienne slicer), slice the scallions, and roughly chop the herbs.
  6. Stir the vegetables and herbs into the noodles.
  7. Serve immediately or refrigerate for a refreshing next-day cold noodle salad.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 205Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1399mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 6gSugar: 6gProtein: 9g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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3 Comments

  1. What a great recipe! I’m always looking for easy (but delicious!) summer dishes to serve at outdoor dinner parties, and this looks perfect. I have two occasions coming up (one which includes a number of vegetarians) so this was perfectly timed! Thanks!

  2. Oh I love this! I tried a great variation of this last night that used beet and daikon cut into match sticks, with small florets of roasted cauliflower and tumeric. This recipe is clutch for beating the heat.

    1. Great minds think alike! I just bought a gorgeous handful of beets this week for more noodle salads. Love the cauliflower idea too, though I can’t bear to turn my oven on – want to bring me some of your roasted florets?

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