Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Roasted Aubergine, Mango & Soba Noodle Salad

Roasted Eggplant, Mango & Soba Noodle Salad 1

Sad to say that my posts have been a bit thin on the ground over the last week. Oh, I've been cooking plenty, but I have been trying to get used to a new camera and all of my photos so far have been diabolical, rendering any potential posts completely unblogworthy.

Perhaps I should go back a bit. A few months ago my neighbour, Alli of Pease Pudding and The Gourmet Gannet cooking school, organised a photography workshop with Sean Shadbolt for some enthusiastic Auckland bloggers. To a woman, we were all greatly inspired, no-one more so than I to discover that there was a good deal more to my little point and shoot camera than just turning it on and off. Talk about the scales falling from my eyes - all of a sudden a whole new world of possibility (albeit it still a rather confusing one) opened up before me. The terms aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance had previously meant nothing to me, and the notion that these were things that I could manipulate even on my point and shoot was a complete revelation.

Fast forward a little now. You know that I have just recently been overseas for several weeks, and having been smitten by the photography bug I decided, since I would be passing through Singapore on the way home, to invest in my first DSLR camera. So ever since I got back, I have been playing with this new toy - exploring it, and trying to get some understanding of what different settings will achieve. The results have not been flash. Until yesterday - I went out for a few hours with my camera, took a whole lot of photos, rushed home to download them, and actually felt reasonably happy with my results. They weren't fantastic photos, but I did feel as though a penny had dropped somewhere, and I could see and understand the outcome of different things I had done.

Buoyed up by my new-found confidence, I got cooking and photographing and these are the results. Not brilliant photos by any stretch of the imagination - there is such a long way to go. However, I can safely say that since I started my blog, just over two years ago (gosh, I actually just realised my blogoversary slipped by a couple of weeks ago) these are the first photos I have really felt happy with, and certainly the first photos that I haven't had to edit in anyway other than a tiny bit of cropping here or there.

As for the food, waiting for me when I returned from overseas was a nice stack of new cookbooks that I'd ordered before I went away. Amongst them, Plenty from Yottam Ottolenghi which I had been wanting for ages. As I leafed through the book, one of the first recipes that jumped out at me was Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango. I love soba noodles, and was intrigued by the combination of aubergine and mango. Whats more, it may be winter here but I would still rather eat some kind of salad any day of the week, than a stew or a casserole. Of course I don't mind a braised lamb shank or a really good osso bucco on a rare occasion, but in the main I am just not a stewy, casseroley kind of girl.

I loved this dish. Even though this is not a hot dish, the aubergine provides enough "meatiness" and substance to compensate. I love the lightness of soba noodles - there is nothing about them that weighs you down - and they are a great vehicle for carrying flavour. The mango is tangy and refreshing, and did indeed complement the aubergine beautifully. All of this is bathed in a bright, tangy dressing which hits all the right notes of sweetness and sharpness, with a little kick of chilli heat. I ate this as a meal on its own - it would be perfect for a light lunch, or would also be great as a starter to a larger meal. On that subject, a note about the quantities - the original recipe claimed to serve 6. Since I was making this only for myself, I halved the recipe (which in theory should therefore have served 3) and anticipated that I would have some leftover for the next day. As it turned out, I ate the lot! I didn't have anything else though - this was my dinner - and if I had been serving this as an appetiser I think it easily would have delivered 3 portions.

Roasted Eggplant, Mango & Soba Noodle Salad 1

Roasted Aubergine, Mango & Soba Noodle Salad Recipe
Adapted from recipe in Plenty, by Yottam Ottolenghi
Vegetarian
Makes 3 appetisers, 2 light meals or 1 generous main
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

Dressing:
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small hot red chilli, finely chopped
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 lime, grated zest & juice

1 medium aubergine, cut into 1cm (1/2 inch) cubes
sunflower oil (or other neutral-flavoured oil)
90g-100g (3 to 4 oz) soba noodles
1/2 large mango, flesh diced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup coriander (cilantro), chopped

Begin by making the dressing: Put the rice wine vinegar, sugar and salt into a small saucepan, and heat gently for about a minute - just until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat, add the garlic, chilli and sesame oil, and then set aside to cool. Once the dressing has cooled completely add the freshly grated lime zest and juice.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F). Line a shallow baking dish with parchment paper and set aside. Cut the aubergine into cubes, add them to the paper lined baking dish, drizzle with oil, and toss well to coat.

Roasted Eggplant, Mango & Soba Noodle Salad 6

Once the oven is hot, put the tray of aubergines into the oven, and bake until golden brown and cooked through - this will take about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. (Note the original recipe called for the aubergine to be fried, but why stand over a frying pan, when you can let the oven do all the work. I think baking them in the oven also uses less oil, which is not really a big deal to me, but it might be to you.)

Roasted Eggplant, Mango & Soba Noodle Salad 5

Now onto the noodles. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt liberally. (Note: My packet of soba noodles stated that salting the water is not necessary, but I do it anyway, and I note that Yottam does too.) Add the noodles to the boiling water and cook until al dente - mine only took 4 minutes, but yours may take a minute or two longer depending on your brand of noodles. Once the noodles are cooked, drain and rinse them well under cold running water. Shake well to remove as much of the water as possible, and then spread them out on a clean tea towel to dry.

Roasted Eggplant, Mango & Soba Noodle Salad 4

Transfer the dry noodles to a large mixing bowl, add the dressing (you will probably only use about half of it), the aubergine, mango, onion, and two-thirds of the coriander. Toss together well.

Roasted Eggplant, Mango & Soba Noodle Salad

At this point you can either serve the salad immediately, or allow it to stand for a couple of hours and let all the flavours infuse. If you do allow it to stand, you will probably want to add some of the leftover dressing before you serve it. Pile it up onto a platter, sprinkle over the remaining coriander, and serve.

Roasted Eggplant, Mango & Soba Noodle Salad 2

I hope you'll give this one a try - it's definitely on my repeat list.

I am sharing this post at Presto Pasta Nights which will next week be hosted by Debbi Does Dinner ...




Also this post is entered in the July Culinary Smackdown. The challenge this month has been laid down by Eggplant To Go, and the theme ingredient is .... eggplant.

49 comments:

  1. Your pictures are looking good!!! So is this salad (except for the eggplant, which I'm trying to come up with a substitute for!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. This looks great I need to try this salad.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sue, this soba noodle salad is truly enticing !
    I want to try this recipe since a long while. The aubergine/mango combination really intrigues me. A great burst of flavours and exoticism in the middle of winter.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, Pam - big learning curve with the photos, but it's a start.

    Hi Danielle - thanks, I hope you give it a try - I'm sure you will enjoy it.

    Thanks Vanille - I so hope you try it - the aubergine & mango combo really works, and is perfect for a bit of a lift from the winter doldrums :-)

    Sue xo

    ReplyDelete
  5. Pam- forgot to add there are a number of possible subs for the aubergine. One of the first things that always springs to mind is mushrooms, but in this case I don't know that they would be great with the mango - probably ok, but not great. Zucchini would be good, but in that case I think I would saute the zucchini rather than oven baking. Tofu, if you like it (not me) would be a good substitute I'm sure, or if you weren't concerned about it being a strictly vegetarian dish you could even add in some chicken or shrimp. It would be a different beast altogether, as I think the magic of this dish for me is in the aubergine/mango combo, but you would still end up with a great salad.
    Sue :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a fun combination of flavors in a noodle salad -- I'd love to give this a try :).

    ReplyDelete
  7. This looks like a gorgeous salad, I can see why you chose to eat so much of it! Love the mango with the bit of chilies!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Looks & sounds delcious...he always comes up with such interestng combinations. And I think the photos are good too...certainly they make me want to try this salad!

    ReplyDelete
  9. My next stop will be a photography course! Your photo of the dish makes me want to take a bite :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a lovely combination. I haven't really got a buy of mangoes this year. They tend to either be too hard or too tender. I should try this when I get back to Indonesia since they have variety of mangoes.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Xiaolu - it is a great combo. I hope you give it a try, and thank you so much for visiting my blog - hope you'll come again :-)

    Hi Debbi - nice to see you again - the mango with the hit of chilli is great!

    Mairi - you're right - that's exactly what I love about Ottolenghi recipes too - there is always something unexpected.

    Hi Tandy - thank you so much. I think a probably need to do a photography course too. Thanks so much for stopping by - I do hope you'll visit again.

    Hi Arfi - yes it's a great combo. Generally good mangoes are hard to get here, but this would be great to try when you are back home and can get them in abundance.

    Sue xo

    ReplyDelete
  12. That looks good, I have to try cooking soba at home. I usually have it at the Japanese restaurants. Your way of having it with roasted aubergine and mango looks really delicious!
    Your photos are looking great, Sue! It's great that you have a new camera! Have a nice day!

    ReplyDelete
  13. My husband brought home 9 mangoes, this week and six, last week. I am looking fast and furiously for good mango recipes that differ from each other. This one is certainly new for me. It is printed and I hope, to be made, this week.

    If you have a moment, would you add this to Let's Do Brunch?

    ReplyDelete
  14. What a great tutorial! Thanks for that. This dish looks amazing. I wish I could convince my husband to eat such dishes. When it comes to noodles, he's a pasta and marinara sauce guy all the way. Enjoyed this post.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great pictures.
    The soba salad sounds intriguing.

    ReplyDelete
  16. lovely combination of flavours looks wonderful haven't heard from you for a while and glad I did
    following you on google friend connect
    keep in touch regards Akheela

    ReplyDelete
  17. Looks lovely! I like the recipe and the photos! Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier!

    ReplyDelete
  18. wow great salad and lovely blog we visited New Zealand in the spring :-) thanks for visiting my blog Rebecca

    ReplyDelete
  19. Love the aubergine in the noodle! Glad to have come here following a tweet. Lovely space.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Joy - I do hope you try the soba noodles at home - they really are so delicious, and so easy too :-)

    Hi Chaya - this would be a great use for some of those mangoes. How lucky you are to have access to such a plentiful supply, they are always imported here so are a rare and special treat.

    Hi Pattie - well this would certainly be a departure from spaghetti & marinara sauce. Not sure that my partner would eat it either - so I tend to really eat lots of things like this when he is away.

    Thanks Andreas, and thanks so much for stopping by - I appreciate your visit.

    Hi Akheela - it's lovely to be in touch again - I'm so pleased you like this dish :-)

    Hi adashofdomestic - thank you so much for visiting and for taking the time to leave a lovely comment :-)

    Thanks so much Rebecca - I hope you had a lovely time visiting New Zealand - perhaps you will come again - if so be sure to look me up :-)

    Hi Lidia - thanks for visiting. Yes, it's very delicious and refreshing too.

    Hi Sanjeeta - I'm so glad you found me. Thank you for your kind comment. The aubergine is great with the soba.

    Sue xo

    ReplyDelete
  21. Your pictures are great Sue! All I have is a point and shoot camera and sometimes I'm okay with it and sometimes I'm not. I just bought a new one a few months ago though and like you said, even with a point and shoot, there are so many opportunities. I just have to figure out how to use it I guess. I love the combination too of hot and spicy with the cool mango in your salad. Delicious!

    ReplyDelete
  22. thats indeed a very unusual combination!! Have never tried the soba....let me check the store if I can get them over the weekend. Nice recipes and the clicks are sharp and colorful..

    ReplyDelete
  23. Sue, thanks so much for joining in the Culinary Smackdown! I’m fascinated by the flavors in this aubergine salad, and your photos are lovely! Keep having fun with that new DSLR!

    That Ottolenghi cookbook really sounds like something I’d like to get my hands on. Another blogger friend who usually participates in the Culinary Smackdowns, La Diva Cucina, has raved about a different book from Ottolenghi – you might be interested in this post, where she made the Ottolenghi recipe for Red Rice and Quinoa Salad with Oranges, Pistachios and Arugula from it:
    http://ladivacucina.blogspot.com/2011/06/red-rice-quinoa-salad-with-orange.html

    Deadline for this month’s Culinary Smackdown, which I’m hosting, is July 31 (details here: http://eggplanttogo.blogspot.com/2011/07/4th-of-july-recap-and-culinary.html). I’ll be posting a round-up of the entries and announcing the winner the following week. P.S. I’ve gone ahead and linked to your entry on my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eggplant-To-Go/188874297804112?ref=ts. Hope that’s ok with you.

    Thanks again,
    Eggy

    ReplyDelete
  24. Your photos are beautiful, looks like you're settling into your new camera well.

    I'm loving Plenty so far, too, and can't wait to try this recipe... maybe when the weather warms up a bit, though - I must admit I'm more of that stew-casserole girl when winter rolls around ;)

    ReplyDelete
  25. awesome salad...love ur gorgeous clicks...:P
    Tasty Appetite

    ReplyDelete
  26. @BrendaThanks Brenda - yes, that was a real revelation to discover that even the point and shoot still offers a lot of flexibility. The chilli and mango combo is great - hope you try it xo

    ReplyDelete
  27. @khushi ( a girl's diary) Hi Khushi - thank you so much. Hope you manage to find some soba noodles. If not I think rice noodles would be a good alternative in this. Thanks for visiting my blog - hope you'll call again xo

    ReplyDelete
  28. @Intuitive Eggplant Thanks Eggy - I sure am loving the new camera. I have the other Ottolenghi book too - I have yet to try the red rice & quinoa recipe but it is one I've had bookmarked for a while. Am excited about the smackdown and thanks for linking me on your facebook page xo

    ReplyDelete
  29. @milliemirepoix Thanks - Plenty is one of those books that I don't think I will ever tire of xo

    ReplyDelete
  30. @Jay Thank you so much, and thanks for visiting my blog - I hope you'll come by again :-)

    ReplyDelete
  31. This recipe has caught my eye time and time again - I'm just waiting for the right eggplant and the right mango at the right price to come along at the right time!

    Have fun with your new camera - I admit I still don't know half of the things I should about mine, it's a bit intimidating sometimes, but isn't it fun when the photos turn out how you want them to? This post looks gorgeous, definitely time and money well spent on the new camera and learning how to use it :)

    ReplyDelete
  32. Sue congratulation for your blog anniversary and for new toy, isn't he fun, i'm sure you are going to have best time clicking all thro way! great salad and looking fwd to see all ur expt shot :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I just got Plenty as well--it is such a gorgeous book. I am marking this recipe to make. It looks wonderful. Great job on the photos. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  34. I've absolutely been meaning to make this now that eggplants are in season! What a fun combination of flavors!

    ReplyDelete
  35. This is a very interesting combination to use in noodle and looks healthy too!

    ReplyDelete
  36. @hungryandfrozen Thanks, Laura. Loving the new toy - it is so much fun. Hope you stumble across the right eggplant & mango as this salad is sooo good xo

    ReplyDelete
  37. @Ananda Rajashekar Hi Ananda - thank you so much - I can't believe I let that occasion just slip by without noticing :-)

    ReplyDelete
  38. @Deb in Hawaii Hi Deb - you are so totally going to love Plenty. It is definitely your sort of book. If you're anything like me you will have this and nearly every other page bookmarked xo

    ReplyDelete
  39. @Joanne Hi Joanne - hope you give this a go - I know you will love it. Super fresh and healthy too xo

    ReplyDelete
  40. @kankana Thanks for visiting - it's a great combo, and yes very healthy too :-)

    ReplyDelete
  41. I had forgotten, I had asked you to link this up and while I was looking for a recipe to feature, my eyes went right to this and I knew, I had to feature it. It is as perfect as when I saw it the other day.

    If you can stop by tomorrow and take a peek. Feel free to continue to feed us.

    ReplyDelete
  42. The recipe sounds yum, I love soba noodles too hot or cold. The camera is making a huge difference, the photos are clear and bright so you can really see whats on the plate.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I remember this salad from Plenty! I now have to wait until summer comes back to us to make this. Awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hello dear! Well done on the fabu salad, so fresh and unique! I am La Diva and love my Ottolenghi cookbook. Those boys sure are talented and my kind of cooking, fresh and flavorful. Good luck with the smackdown, I'm UP!

    ReplyDelete
  45. What fabulous ingredients in this wonderfully delicious looking salad. Thank you for sharing. I will definitely try it out soon. xx

    ReplyDelete
  46. just found your blog and what a great post to find! I truly enjoyed your writing and your photography as well! the soba noodle dish with roasted aubergine just sounds and looks amazing! I'm adding you to my reader/blogroll! I look forward to more outstanding recipes & posts!

    ReplyDelete
  47. Thanks so much for your wonderful contribution to the Culinary Smackdown, Sue! A round-up of all the eggplant entries and announcement of the winner up at my place: http://eggplanttogo.blogspot.com/2011/08/culinary-smackdown-round-up-and-winner.html

    ReplyDelete
  48. Hi Sue, Just dropping in to say hi! :)

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. I love hearing from you and your comments are like gold to me. Your comment will be visible as soon as it has been approved.