Something Light

November 21, 2012 Comments Off on Something Light

I’m in no position to tell you what or how to eat on Thanksgiving. But please don’t make the same mistake that I’ve made previously on Thanksgiving and fast until it’s time for the big feast to begin. I can’t help but think that the obscene caloric intake of the average American on Thanksgiving can be partially attributed to this behavior.

Just because Americans (allegedly) consume anywhere from 4,000-5,000 calories on Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to follow suit. Eat throughout the day to avoid overeating later on. Your body needs the energy. Take care of yourself.

OK. I will get off my soapbox now.

If you’re looking for something light and nourishing to eat before it’s time to gorge on turducken–or, um, veggieducken–give this soba noodle salad a try. The noodles and vegetables provide a welcome energry boost and fiber, and the almond butter dressing adds protein and a bit of spice.

Now that you’ve added sesame butter to your repertoire, it’s time to start making your own almond butter. A jar of almond butter costs almost as much as a jar of tahini. A bag of almonds, on the other hand, costs half as much.

Here’s how you do it. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spread 1-2 cups (depending on how much almond butter you need) on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until the almonds are a couple of shades darker, inside and out, and smell toasty. Allow the almonds to cool for a bit, then transfer to a food processor. Pulse until you’ve achieved a consistency akin to sand. Scrape the sides of the food processor and continue pulsing. Alternate between pulsing and scraping until the almonds secrete their oils and you have a nice, spreadable butter. Keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

That’s it. Really.

You can use your delicious homemade almond butter for making this spicy dressing. The trick here is to get the sauce thin enough for tossing without compromising its texture and taste. This will require anywhere from 8-10 tablespoons or warm water. Perhaps even more. Try to achieve a consistency like creamy bottled salad dressing or gravy. You can always make adjustments to the seasonings, depending on how spicy you like your food.

When it comes to vegetables in this dish, I used black kale, celery root, and sunchoke, but feel free to experiment with other crisp, seasonal vegetables.

No matter how you choose to celebrate, eat well, surround yourself with wonderful people, and give thanks.

Fall-Winter Soba Noodle Salad

-1 13 oz. package soba noodles

-1 medium bunch of black kale, washed, stemmed and chopped into ribbons

-1 small head celery root, peeled and shredded or diced

-1 large sunchoke, peeled and diced or thinly sliced

-2/3 cup homemade almond butter

-2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

-1 tablespoon shoyu or soy sauce

-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste

-~8-10 tablespoons of warm water

-Cook the soba noodles according to the package directions. Salt the water generously and don’t overcook. Leave the noodles slightly aldente. Drain and run under cold water for a minute or so to stop the cooking process. Shake off any excess water and place in a large mixing bowl.

-In a small bowl, combine the almond butter, sesame oil, shoyu, cayenne, and red pepper flakes, along with 3 tablespoons of water and whisk. Continue adding more warm water and whisk until the dressing is thin enough to toss. Adjust seasonings if you wish, adding more spices, sesame oil or shoyu.

-Add the chopped vegetables to the large mixing bowl with the noodles. Pour in half of the dressing and toss to coat. Add the remaining half and toss once again. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Keeps in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Yields enough for 3-4 hungry people or for enough lunches for one person to eat throughout the week.

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