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Yotam Ottolenghi wrote the wonderful vegetarian cookbook "Plenty". The recipes are inspired by his time spent living in both Europe and the Middle East. He credits this recipe to his mother. He describes it as her "ultimate cook-to-impress fare" and a favorite among the readers of his Guardian recipe column. I followed his recipe except that I broiled the eggplant instead of deep frying it as he suggests and I added mushrooms.
The recipe is best if it is made a few hours before eating to allow time for the flavors to meld. It would be a good choice for a pot luck party.
If this is to be a main course, simply add cubed fried/grilled tofu to the salad.
Soba Noodles with eggplant and mango
1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 tsp sirachi hot sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
grated zest and juice of one lime
1 Italian eggplant or 3-4 Asian eggplants, cut into 2cm cubes and tossed with vegetable oil
8 oz soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into 1cm cubes
1 1/2 cups Thai basil leaves, julienned
2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 sweet (vidalia) onion, very thinly sliced
1 pkg sliced mushrooms (8 oz)
roasted sesame seeds for garnish
In a small pot, heat the rice vinegar, sugar and salt over moderate heat to dissolve the sugar in the vinegar. Remove from heat and add the rest of the dressing ingredients to the pot. Allow to cool before tossing on the salad.
Lay the eggplant in a single layer on a foil covered cookie sheet and broil about 3 inches from the element. Turn to cook the other side once browned and sizzling. The eggplant should be soft, cooked through, with darkened crispy skin.
Fry onions in 1 tsp oil until cooked. Cool.
Cook the soba noodles in lots of boiling lightly salted water until cooked al dente - about 6-8 minutes. Drain well and rinse under cold running water. Shake the water off and allow to drip dry or lay on a clean dish towel to thoroughly dry before tossing with dressing and salad ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, toss the dressing, mango, mushrooms, eggplant, cooked cold soba noodles, half the basil and half the cilantro and the onion. Allow to sit for 1-2 hours. When ready to serve, add the other half of the basil and cilantro to the salad and toss well.