Monday, December 4, 2006

"The Hali'imaile General Store Cookbook" - Soba Noodle Salad with Passion Fruit Vinaigrette

Date I made the recipe: August 20, 2006

The Hali’imaile General Store Cookbook by Beverly Gannon
Published by Ten Speed Press
ISBN: 1-58008-179-3
© 2000

Recipe: Soba Noodle Salad with Passion Fruit Vinaigrette – p. 15

Okay, I started out wanting to Lobster Rolls from Rebecca Charles’ Lobster Rolls and Blueberry Pie but came up against a major obstacle…some little thing about needing fresh lobster meat and the instruction to try to cook said lobster moiself.

People, I don’t know about you but my motto in life is “Why do for yourself what you can pay others to do for you?” It’s not that I’m lazy, nor is it that I’m squeamish about cooking taking apart a lobster (I believe “clueless” is the word I’m looking for) but rather, why take the time to get the meat yourself when others can get it for you?

Yes, well, great idea in theory, bad in practice. While the Twin Cities have a wonderful seafood shop called Coastal Seafoods,
they are not, in fact, open on a Sunday (Like what, you don’t think anyone wants seafood on Sundays?). Naturally, I realized this about five minutes before they were going to close on Saturday night.

Anyway….without a lobster and said lobster meat, the recipe was temporarily back- burnered but I was still obsessing about light, fresh and summery food.

Enter “Hali.” Two years ago, I made a third visit to the Hawaiian Islands for a much-needed R&R. This was my husband’s first visit and after a stint on Kauai (my favorite island), we went to Maui.

Hali’imaile is located in what is known as Up-County and we lunched there one beautiful day after taking in other areas of interest. We had a wonderful meal and of course, bought their cookbook.

After leafing through all the possibilities, and without remembering that I just had pasta the week before, I selected a recipe for Soba noodles with passion fruit vinaigrette.

This recipe was relatively easy and preparation time appeared to be quick although to be honest with you, I got all distracted by the PGA tournament and Tiger Woods and well…I believe I started chopping around the 14th hole and ended at the 19th (and for you non-golf fans, that means the bar) so I’m not really sure how long it all took. I think if you leave out the accompanying glass of wine I had to celebrate Tiger’s victory, you’re maybe at 20 minutes, max.
I liked this recipe and would do it again but would definitely use less fresh herbs and would absolutely eliminate the mint. Yes, I know, careful readers of last week’s recipe will observe that mint was part of the Sicilian pasta dish I made but the amount was minute and didn’t overpower the dish whereas I could not get the taste of mint out of my mouth on this one and I’m not the biggest fan of mint to begin with.

Believe it or not, two of the stores we went to did not stock Soba noodles (and if they did, just where exactly were they hiding, hmm?) so we used spaghetti. As to the passion fruit puree, Beverly, the author, said you can substitute concentrated frozen orange juice for the puree which I would have done had I not stumbled upon Welch’s passion fruit frozen concentrate sitting right there in front of God and everybody in the frozen juice section! I mean people, what are the odds?!

Don’t ask me why but I felt the dish needed something else so we threw a couple of shrimp in there to see what happened. The answer: nothing. They didn’t add, they didn’t detract, they just sat there looking woeful since I had just run them under a faucet to thaw and they did not take the cold-water battering well. Oh well, one has to try.

Soba Noodle Salad with Passion Fruit Vinaigrette
For the vinaigrette
5 T passion fruit puree*
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ c. olive oil
For the salad
½ pound soba noodles (or spaghetti)
1 tsp Asian sesame oil
½ pound mixed baby salad greens
¼ julienned red bell peppers
¼ c. peeled and julienned carrots
¼ c. julienned snow peas
2 T sliced pickled ginger
1 T sesame seeds, toasted
2 T chopped green onions, green part only
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
2 T chopped fresh mint

*If you want to make your own passion fruit puree, the recipe for it is on p. 15.

To make this dish:

To prepare the vinaigrette, combine all ingredients in a blender (or in my case, my Cuisinart) and process until well blended. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Break the soba noodles/spaghetti in half, add to water, stir well and cook for 6-7 minutes (or as directed) until al dente. Drain and rinse with cool water.

Okay, no offense Beverly, but I changed your recipe ever so slightly because you directed that we “cut the noodles with scissors after cooking to achieve shorter lengths” and were you kidding? Did you really try to do that after they cooked, because I’ve gotta tell you, trying to cut sticky pasta into pieces the fact is like trying to wrestle an alligator into a Ziplock® bag. I’m just saying….

Place noodles in a bowl, add the sesame oil and toss well. In a separate bowl, toss the greens with the vinaigrette.

In a large, nice glass bowl (as opposed to the smaller, tacky glass bowl I used), arrange a layer of one-third of the greens then top with a layer of one-third of the noodles. Sprinkle the noodles with one-third each of the bell pepper, carrot, snow peas, ginger, sesame seeds, green onion, cilantro and mint* (*or not, as stated above). Repeat two make 2 additional layers of greens, noodles, vegetables and seasonings. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Now I’ve gotta tell you the photo in the book looked lovely. Simply divine. Smashing. If I had a photo of my dish when I got through, however, you’d see a gloppy mess of not-so-layered layers as well as bits and pieces of mint stuck all over my fingers making me look like I was working on some weird science project that got away from me. This is why Beverly is the chef and I am not. It’s that simple.

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