The joke about Minnesota is that we have four seasons: June, July, August, and winter. Like all oft-repeated jokes, it's funny because of its half-truth. We do have picture-book falls, with piles of leaves, apple cider, and because I live in the outer reaches of the Twin Cities metro, pumpkin patches complete with wandering flocks of wild turkeys. Spring is a briefer season, late to arrive and punctuated with at least one snowstorm. But as the joke suggests, winter is the dominant season in Minnesota, settling in around mid-November and not reliably lifting until the end of April.
I spend Septembers in a state of blissful denial about the upcoming desolation, but by October the delusion tends to break down. Zucchini and tomatoes are a lingering memory, replaced in our CSA box by acorn squash and stalks of Brussels sprouts. No matter how soon after dinner I rush out for an evening run, my way home is lit by streetlights. Although we're treated to occasional unseasonably warm days, for the most part I've swapped out my short-sleeve cardigans for long-sleeve ones and pulled out my thermal tights.
But food-wise, I'm still not willing to start in on hearty soups and slow cooker concoctions. On days when the sun is shining through the half-green leaves and the temperature hits 80, I want something fresh and light, filled with the crunch of possibility. This soba noodle salad provides the flavor and textures of warmer months, but relies on carrots and green onions--produce I can obtain decent supermarket versions of year-round.
This salad tastes best at room temperature. If you have leftovers, remove from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before eating so the salad can warm up.
Adapted from the Kitchn
- 10-11 ounce package soba noodles
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 pound carrots, peeled and shaved into thin slices (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Transfer noodles to a large bowl, adding a modest drizzle of oil if necessary to prevent sticking, and place in refrigerator to chill.
Toast sesame seeds in a medium skillet over medium heat until golden and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, soy sauce, and sugar.
Add the carrots, green onions, and vinegar dressing to the chilled noodles. Using tongs, toss to combine. Add toasted sesame seeds and toss again.