I’m sort of mesmerized by how DJ Khaled keeps dropping fire singles what seems like every other week. He’s been around forever (remember We Takin’ Over??), and I feel like people used to hate on his cheesy “hip hop,” but all of a sudden he’s making bangers with everyone and their mother, including Beyoncé and Jay, Bieber, Calvin Harris, and Rihanna.
These days, if I’m walking down the street, “subtly” shoulder bopping to the opening of an unfamiliar jam on Spotify’s Top Hits, I expect that the familiar sound of Khaled screaming, “DJ KHALED!! Anotha one! Anotha one!” is sure to follow. His hit rate is undeniably impressive, and as far as the “self love” movement goes, Khaled is absolutely slaying. Regardless of whether you dig the music, you kinda have to respect his game, and we could all likely benefit from embracing a little bit more of the “WE DA BEST!” mentality.
Don’t worry, my DJ Khaled rambling has a point, I promise. Wait for it…
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a wonderfully inspiring woman named Hetty McKinnon. We were seated next to each other at the very first #FriendsinFood dinner, and I found myself with an instant food lady crush. Not only was she a sassy Australian (Australian accents make me feel happy and calm?) who said I should be on TV, but she was also a wildly talented vegetarian chef with a penchant for salad and building community through food. As you know, I am also fond of these things.
A little backstory: In 2011, Hetty started a community kitchen in her inner city home in Sydney, Australia. Twice a week, she would cook up a bunch of delicious, plant-based salad boxes, stash them in her bicycle basket, and deliver them to the people in her neighborhood. Hetty’s adventure, which she dubbed “Arthur Street Kitchen,” brought so many kindred spirits together, and in the “hunting and gathering of stories and histories with local salad-eaters,” she realized the importance of food in allowing people to feel connected with others. This spawned her first cookbook, Community: Recipes from Arthur Street Kitchen as well as a beautiful blog, both of which feature some of the most drool-worthy salads I’ve ever laid eyes on. Or tasted.
Hetty has since left Sydney and, after some extensive European travels, settled with her family in Brooklyn, where she’s lived for the past three years while working on her latest cookbook, Neighborhood: Hearty Salads and Plant-Based Recipes From Home and Abroad. I’ve been anxiously awaiting its release for months, so when I arrived home from California last week to find a copy on my doorstep, I completely lost my cool.
Neighborhood is the cookbook equivalent of a platinum album, people, and it is chock full of hits. I took out a block of post-its, sat down with the book, and an hour later realized I had put a post-it on every page, excluding the few mentioning raw tomatoes or capers because I’m picky like dat. The woman gives new meaning to the term “salad,” and I have yet to try a recipe that hasn’t come out perfectly. I’ve made three so far and each time, I felt the urge to scream, “Hetty McKinnon! Anotha one!!” as I set the salad down on the table. Sooooo….Hetty is essentially a (much cuter) salad-creating version of DJ Khaled.
OH SHIT…Salad Khaled!!! (Hetty, lemme know if you want me to trademark that for you.)
Deciding on a recipe to share was obviously a Sophie’s Choice sitch, but I ultimately settled on Seedy Soba Noodles with Asian Herbs. Hetty brought a non-seedy variation of these noodles to the potluck where we were introduced, and I’ve told her time and again that they were the best damn soba noodles I’d ever had. Until I tried the life-changing seedy version.
Tossed with a refreshing medley of herbs, five(!!) seeds, and subtly sweet ginger dressing, this noodle salad is a delicious departure from your typical peanut or ginger-soy soba. The layers of flavor and texture up in these noodles are RIDICULOUS, and they’re perfect as a light summer meal or side. In fact, I ate some for breakfast this morning, and I’m taking a second batch to my friends’ house this weekend as a festive side for the group. (I can’t wait for my compliments!)
A few major key alerts for this recipe:
- Gluten-free folks, make sure to get 100% buckwheat soba, as some soba noodles are made with a small amount of whole-wheat flour. And if you’re not into soba, Hetty recommends subbing mung bean vermicelli or rice noodles.
- The recipe calls for A LOT of seeds. It will seem like too many seeds. It isn’t. It’s just the right amount. Trust in your weird blog lady (and Salad Khaled).
- Nigella seeds are also called black cumin. If you can’t find them, don’t panic. Just leave them out or add a little extra sesame. (I subbed some hemp seeds for funsies.)
- This salad is very lightly dressed, which I dig. I think it lets the nutty flavor of the soba and the fresh herbs shine. With that said, you can also double the dressing if you like.
Happy summer Friday, friends!! May it be filled with good vibes, good friends, and good salad. #wildthoughts
p.s. Get Hetty’s book. You won’t regret it.
Seedy Soba Noodles with Asian Herbs: (Serves 4-6 as an entrée)
1 pound (500 g) soba noodles
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cilantro leaves
½ cup Thai basil or regular basil leaves
½ cup Vietnamese mint or regular mint leaves
½ cup finely chopped scallions
1 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
1 cup pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds), toasted
½ cup white sesame seeds, toasted
½ cup black sesame seeds
3 tablespoons nigella seeds
Sea salt and white pepper
Sweet Ginger Dressing:
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, grated
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Sea salt and white pepper
Preparing your Seedy Soba Noodles with Asian Herbs:
-Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the soba noodles, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking, until just tender. Drain and refresh under cold running water. (You must rinse the noodles in cold water immediately to keep them from sticking, people.) Place the noodles in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil to keep them loose. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill.
-To make the dressing, mix together the ginger and garlic in a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk everything together. Season with salt and white pepper.
-Roughly chop or tear the herb leaves and add them to the bowl of chilled noodles with the green onion, seeds, and dressing. Toss gently to combine and season with salt and white pepper to taste.
-Serve chilled. Cold white wine optional, but recommended.
- 1 pound (500 g) soba noodles
- 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup cilantro leaves
- ½ cup Thai basil or regular basil leaves
- ½ cup Vietnamese mint or regular mint leaves
- ½ cup finely chopped scallions
- 1 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
- 1 cup pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds), toasted
- ½ cup white sesame seeds, toasted
- ½ cup black sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons nigella seeds
- Sea salt and white pepper
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 1 garlic clove, grated
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- Sea salt and white pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the soba noodles, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent sticking, until just tender. Drain and refresh under cold running water. (You must rinse the noodles in cold water immediately to keep them from sticking, people.) Place the noodles in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil to keep them loose. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to chill.
- To make the dressing, mix together the ginger and garlic in a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk everything together. Season with salt and white pepper.
- Roughly chop or tear the herb leaves and add them to the bowl of chilled noodles with the green onion, seeds, and dressing. Toss gently to combine and season with salt and white pepper to taste.
Recipe barely adapted from Neighborhood by Hetty McKinnon.