Many of us are drawn to the rich flavors of the Mediterranean where the cuisines of Southern Europe blend with those of Northern Africa and the Middle East. Ingredients like Tahini, coriander, olive oil and grilled eggplant are some of my favorites and served with pasta, they compose the perfect Meatless Monday dinner. When eating these rich flavors, I often crave the robust flavor and texture of noodles made with whole grains like Farro. Two years ago I spent some time in Italy learning to make pasta and bread with Farro in the Village of Barolo. My lesson took place in a bakery perched in the hills of Piedmonte, overlooking the rows of the indigenous Niebbolo grape, just a block away from the Museo del Vino.
But on a Monday in New York, I am short of time and a long way from Barolo so a substitution of nutty soba noodles, whose origins are from further east, stand-in as a suitable substitute.
4 ounces soba noodles or Farro pasta
2 tablespoons of Tahini (sesame paste you can find in most gourmet stores)
2 tablespoons vegetable stock
2 teaspoons tamari
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus more for tossing before serving
2 teaspoons, freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 rounded (generous) cup grilled eggplant
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
freshly grounded coriander (you can use a coffee grinder if you don’t have a spice mill)
additional salt for seasoning
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Cook soba noodles according to package instructions. Using a colander, rinse the noodles thoroughly under cold running water, rubbing them gently with your hands to get rid of the slimy texture. Drain well.
In a large bowl, whisk the Tahini and veg stock together. Whisk in the lemon juice and olive oil. Add the noodles and toss with the dressing to combine. Next, add the eggplant, sesame seeds, scallions, and gently mix together. Top with fresh ground coriander and black pepper just before serving.