Kale, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad with Spicy Sesame Dressing

Kale, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad with Spicy Sesame Dressing
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About This Recipe

The wine country of Napa Valley is renowned for its spectacular vineyards, producing some of the finest wines globally. But what many don't realize is that this region also boasts a rich culinary landscape, with dishes inspired by the diverse cultures that have left their imprint here over the decades.

The Kale, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad with Spicy Sesame Dressing is one such dish that perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Napa. A fusion of Asian inspirations with the fresh, farm-to-table approach Napa is known for, this dish is a delightful testament to how different flavors can come together in harmony.

The story behind this dish is quite fascinating. As the tale goes, it was crafted on a warm summer day, with a local Napa home chef looking to create something light yet flavorful. Drawing inspiration from the East, soba noodles became the base. These thin Japanese noodles, made from buckwheat, provide a delicate, nutty flavor. Add to this the earthy tones of kale, a green that thrives in Northern California's temperate climate, and you have a base that's both nutritious and flavorful.

However, the real star is the Spicy Sesame Dressing. A blend of toasted sesame oil, a dash of soy sauce for umami, the tang of rice vinegar, a hint of sweetness from honey, the zing from fresh lime juice, and the kick from sriracha, it's a dressing that dances on the palate.

The addition of chicken gives the dish its protein, making it a complete meal in itself. But, while the ingredients are noteworthy, it's the wine pairings that elevate this dish to sublime levels.

Pairing wine with a dish as versatile as this can be a delightful challenge. Given the myriad flavors, from the umami-rich chicken and soba noodles to the spicy dressing, the wine needs to complement without overpowering.

A safe choice would be a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, like the one from Duckhorn Vineyards. Its citrusy notes harmonize with the dish's spiciness and the earthiness of the kale. If you're looking for a classic pairing, a dry Riesling is the way to go. The aromatic profile and slight mineral notes, especially from a bottle from Smith-Madrone Vineyards & Winery, can accentuate the dish's umami-rich components. For those with an adventurous palate, a Grüner Veltliner, rare but expertly crafted by Stony Hill Vineyard in Napa, provides an exciting contrast to the dressing's heat.

Imagine sitting in a beautiful Napa vineyard, a plate of this refreshing salad in front of you, and a glass of chilled wine that perfectly complements every bite. As you take in the surrounding beauty, from the rolling vineyards to the distant hills, you realize this is what Napa is all about – a confluence of flavors, cultures, and experiences.

If you ever find yourself in Napa or Sonoma, be sure to indulge in the local culinary delights. From gourmet dishes in Michelin-starred restaurants to hearty meals in family-run eateries, the region has a lot to offer. And while you're at it, don't forget to pair your meals with the perfect wine. After all, in wine country, every meal is a celebration.

Whether you're a local, a visitor, or someone reading this from miles away, remember that food and wine are more than just sustenance and drink in Napa. They are the very essence of this land, a reflection of its history, its people, and its soul. And dishes like the Kale, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad with Spicy Sesame Dressing are perfect examples of how Napa Valley continues to inspire, innovate, and enchant.

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Soba Noodles

The centerpiece of our Kale, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad is none other than the soba noodles themselves. These thin Japanese noodles are made from buckwheat, providing a rich, nutty flavor. They are not only gluten-free (when made purely from buckwheat) but also packed with essential nutrients, including protein, fiber, and various minerals. What sets soba apart from other noodles is its versatility; it's just as delicious cold as it is warm, making it perfect for salads like ours.

How to Cook Soba Noodles Perfectly

Cooking soba noodles might seem straightforward, but a few techniques ensure they retain their texture and flavor:

  1. Boil a Large Pot of Water: Ensure there's ample water for the noodles to move freely.
  2. Do Not Add Salt: Unlike pasta, soba noodles don't require salted water.
  3. Stir Occasionally: This prevents the noodles from sticking together.
  4. Taste Test: Soba noodles cook quickly, often in 4-5 minutes. Taste them to ensure they're cooked but still retain a slight bite.
  5. Rinse in Cold Water: Once cooked, drain and rinse them under cold water. This stops the cooking process and washes away excess starch, ensuring they remain non-sticky.

FAQs

  1. Can I substitute another type of noodle for soba? Yes, you can use udon or whole wheat spaghetti if soba noodles are unavailable. However, this will alter the dish's nutritional profile and flavor slightly.
  2. How do I store leftovers? Place any leftover salad in an airtight container and refrigerate. It's best consumed within 2-3 days for optimal freshness.
  3. I have a nut allergy. Is this dish safe for me? While the dish itself doesn't contain nuts, sesame, an ingredient in the dressing, can sometimes be a trigger for those with nut allergies. Always consult with a medical professional regarding allergies.
  4. Can I make a vegetarian version of this dish? Certainly! Simply omit the chicken. You can add tofu or tempeh as a protein substitute if desired.
  5. What tools do I need for this recipe? A good quality skillet for cooking the chicken, a pot for boiling the noodles, and a large mixing bowl for assembling the salad are essential.

Tips for Success

  1. Marinate the Chicken: For an extra flavor boost, consider marinating the chicken in some of the Spicy Sesame Dressing for about 30 minutes before grilling.
  2. Taste as You Go: Before serving, taste the salad and adjust the seasoning if needed. Sometimes, a splash of lime or an extra drizzle of dressing can make all the difference.
  3. Serve Chilled: This salad tastes best when served slightly chilled. If you've prepared it in advance, take it out of the fridge about 15 minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to meld together while maintaining a refreshing temperature.

With these insights, you're well-equipped to master the Kale, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad with Spicy Sesame Dressing. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a culinary newbie, this dish is sure to impress with its depth of flavor and delightful textures. Enjoy your culinary journey through the flavors of Napa Valley and beyond!

Recipe Overview

Recipe:
Kale, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad with Spicy Sesame Dressing
Author:
Lily Anderson
Season:
Summer
Yield:
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
375
Prep Time:
PT20M
Cook Time:
PT20M
Total Time:
PT40M

Ingredients List

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 200g soba noodles
  • 4 cups kale, de-stemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 cup edamame, shelled and cooked
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

For the Spicy Sesame Dressing:

  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1-2 tsp sriracha (adjust based on heat preference)

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Grill them over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked through. Allow them to rest for a few minutes, then slice them thinly.
  2. Cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and remove excess starch.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the kale, purple cabbage, carrots, edamame, and green onions.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until well combined.
  5. Toss the vegetables with the dressing, ensuring they're well coated.
  6. Add the soba noodles and sliced chicken to the bowl, gently mixing to combine everything.
  7. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
  8. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for later enjoyment.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

Get ready to experience the rich flavors and unique culinary delights that embody the essence of wine country living. Happy cooking!

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