Meet the soba noodle—an exceedingly yummy noodle made of buckwheat. Now, meet buckwheat—a shrub that is totally unrelated to wheat. In the 18th and 19th centuries, buckwheat was a popular crop in the United States. Farmers used it to diversify their crops, to break up clay soils, to prevent erosion and to eat (grinding the seeds into buckwheat flour). In the 20th century, farmers began using synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. Corn and wheat flourished in the chemically-treated soil, but buckwheat responded poorly. Buckwheat yields declined and farmers shifted their fields to produce more corn and wheat and less buckwheat.
Okey, dokey. Now that you know the history of buckwheat, eat it.
1 package soba noodles
2 red bell peppers, diced
a whole bunch of green beans
1 package extra-firm tofu, drained, patted dry and cubed
2-3 carrots, peeled and grated
1 bunch scallions, sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 packed tbsp brown sugar
½ of a small red onion, minced (about 2 tbsp)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp ketchup with a pinch of red pepper flakes
1. Combine chicken broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, brown sugar, red onion, rice vinegar, lime juice and spicy ketchup in a food processor. Blend until well combined, about 30 seconds.
2. Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Drain. Set aside.
3. Heat sesame oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add tofu and cook until starting to brown, 3-5 minutes.
4. Add scallions, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently for 1 minute.
5. Add carrots, green beans and peppers. Cook for 2-5 minutes, until peppers and green beans become crisp-tender.
6. Add soba noodles and peanut sauce to the skillet. Toss to coat everything with the sauce.