It’s spring! It’s the time of year when fruits and veggies that haven’t been readily available all winter, start to make their reappearance in our markets and the bounty of food that surrounds me really starts to hit home. We are so fortunate to live in times and places of plenty, and we food bloggers celebrate this every week in our posts. Now, lest you think that I have gone soft in the head and am confusing the season with Thanksgiving, my ramblings are really just sparked by the title of the cookbook from which this recipe hails: Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. I am sure that most of you are familiar with this very popular cookbook, but if you aren’t, I encourage you to check it out. It epitomizes abundance; each page overflowing with gorgeous recipes and photographs made with fresh and healthy ingredients, tempting us at every turn to make another recipe from the kitchen of this very talented chef. I have made today’s recipe numerous times now and every time I do, my taste buds jump for joy (so does my husband!) It is one of those recipes that I keep coming back to because I literally need to experience this combination of flavours again. If you are having a little dinner party, make this recipe and you will so impress your guests! That is why I have brought it tonight to Fiesta Friday! I know the gang there will enjoy it! If you haven’t checked out the hottest blog party in the blogosphere yet, come on over! There is a link on our host Angie’s blog, The Novice Gardener. One click and you open the door to a myriad of scrumptious things to feast your eyes on, and plenty of super nice bloggers too!
Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
½ cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ fresh red chile, finely chopped or ½ teaspoon sambal olek (see picture below)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of one lime
1 cup sunflower oil
2 eggplants, cut into 3/4 inch dice
1 large mango, cut into 3/8 inch dice
1 2/3 cup basil leaves, chopped (if using Thai basil, use less of it)
2 ½ cups cilantro leaves, chopped
½ red onion, very thinly sliced
In a small saucepan, gently warm the vinegar, sugar, and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chili and sesame oil. Allow to cool, and then add the lime zest and juice. Set this mixture aside.
Heat the sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow-fry the eggplant in batches. Once golden brown, remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave there to drain.
Cook the noodles in a pot of boiling, salted water, stirring occasionally – about 5 to 8 minutes until tender, but al dente. Drain and rinse well under running cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a dish towel.
In a mixing bowl, toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, eggplant, half of the herbs and the onions. You can now leave this aside for 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve, add the rest of the herbs and mix well.
Pile on a plate or in a bowl and sigh with delight when the first fork full hits your taste buds! Or burst into song, which I have also done!