I have a little bit more of an appetite these days. I haven't cooked much, unless toast counts, but my kitchen is somewhat more appealing these days. I've started slowly going through mom's things at the house- old boxes of photographs, telegrams, and correspondances. My mom was the one in the family who saved everything- eighteenth century family photos, my grandfather's manuscripts, two whole shoeboxes full of letters my grandmother wrote her while in college. Dance cards filled out with names of boys, most now forgotten, buttons from every presidential election since 1956. Her divorce papers. Every award, paper, or gold star I ever received in school.
It's exhausting, going through everything. It's all I do- work, clean out the house, deal with bills and debts and credits. All the work, however, does stir up an appetite. I've been trying to empty out some things in the pantry, since I've essentially inherited my mother's pantry as well. Soba noodles (Japanese buckwheat noodles) are great because they cook in minutes and are more nutritious than plain old pasta. Combined with eggplant, chilies, garlic, and walnuts, and drizzled with sesame oil, it's the only thing I've cooked in weeks.
Soba Noodles with Eggplant, Garlic, Chilis, and Walnuts
8 oz soba noodles
peanut or grapeseed oil
2 cups of cubed eggplant
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 - 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes or chili flakes (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
sesame oil, to taste
thinly sliced red cabbage, optional (I like the extra crunch)
1. Set a pot of water to boil.
2. Heat a generous splash of grapeseed oil in a skillet. Add the eggplant and garlic and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is completely tender. Add the walnuts, pepper flakes, and salt and cook a few minutes more, until the walnuts are lightly toasted.
3. Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles according to package directions (about 6-8 minutes). Transfer the noodles with tongs to the pan with the eggplant and add the cabbage if using. Toss everything together to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with sesame oil. Serve immediately.