When you move to a new city, it’s normal to compare it to the one you just left. But often, I find myself comparing D.C. to France. Maybe it’s because there’s so much history here, and the city as a whole is smaller than Chicago; the streets are narrower and more winding, just like in Europe. But I think it’s also because I’m starting to feel at home here. I enjoy walking to work every morning–at 7 a.m., the city is just waking up, and I like watching people open their shops and walk through the quiet streets. It reminds me of when I used to get up early to catch the bus to school in the morning in France. Even though I’ve always considered D.C. a big city, in those moments, I feel like I’m in a small town.
Yesterday night, I decided to make a recipe I’ve been meaning to try for a while: soba noodles with roasted zucchini and cherry tomatoes. I found the recipe on Pinterest, and the photo immediately grabbed my attention: Bright, colorful strands of squash, and vibrant, red juicy tomatoes served atop a nest of ribbon-thin noodles. It looked almost too good to eat–but in my experience, there are few things that meet that qualification.
I’ve also been intrigued by soba noodles: I read about them in my new Mediterranean cookbook, and I recently tried them for the first time in bibimbap at a Korean restaurant near my work. I always associated them with soups and salads, but as it turns out, they also work well in a pasta dish.
To make the zucchini, I would highly recommend investing in a julienne peeler–the one I bought was not expensive, and in minutes, I peeled the zucchini into perfect, ribbon-like strings. I roasted the zucchini and cherry tomatoes in the oven with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, and then focused on the pesto.
The recipe calls for using two different kinds of nuts/seeds for the pesto (pumpkin seeds and walnuts), but feel free to use whatever you have on hand. Also unlike most pesto, this one is completely vegan. The recipe didn’t call for any Parmesan cheese, so I just combined the seeds with a little olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and kale (the original recipe called for chard…but I didn’t have any on hand).
The great thing about this dish is that is tastes even better cold: While there’s something to be said about the hot, caramelized zucchini and warm, steaming noodles on a cold winter night, the tomatoes get even more juicy on Day 2 (and the flavors in the pesto meld together more). It’s perfect for leftovers the next day for lunch or a quick after-work meal.
Soba Noodles with Kale Pesto, Oven Roasted Tomatoes and Zucchini (slightly adapted from here)
a pint (about 2 cups) of cherry tomatoes
2 green zucchini, shredded with a julienne peeler or by hand
a drizzle of olive oil
1 package of soba noodles
for the pesto:
a big bunch of kale
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup of walnuts
1 clove of garlic, minced
a squeeze of 1/2 a lemon
a pinch or two of salt + pepper
1/4-1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
Roast the zucchini and tomatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 400º.
- Place the cherry tomatoes and the shredded zucchini on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the tomatoes and zucchini start to brown.
While the vegetables are roasting, prepare the pesto:
- Place all of the ingredients, expect for the olive oil, into a food processor and pulse several times. Then, while the food processor is running, add in the olive oil in a slow stream until you have the consistency you like.
- Once everything is incorporated, give the pesto a taste and adjust any seasoning accordingly. Sometimes I find it needs a little more lemon juice, or a little more salt/pepper.
When the vegetables are done roasting, prepare the soba noodles.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the noodles according to the directions on the package.
Assemble the dish:
- Spoon the pesto over the noodles and toss until the all the noodles are coated with the pesto. Add in the zucchini and tomatoes on top.