Soba Noodle Salad with Chicken & Chili Oil

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: lunch is my least favorite meal of the day. Typical lunch foods – sandwiches, salads, soups – get boring fast and even though I’ll try to bring my own salad to work, they are never as satisfying as those you can get at a restaurant. What works best for me is to treat lunch like another dinner and not limit myself to another blah salad. Granted bringing leftover fish that you need to heat up in the office microwave is probably not the way to go, but by bringing for lunch what you would usually have for dinner opens up so many other options and gives me something to look forward to at lunch time. Like this Soba Noodle Salad – even though it has the word  “salad” in there, do not be fooled, I could and would eat this for dinner, lunch, or breakfast. It’s so flavorful and holds up well so you won’t be chomping on soggy lettuce. Though still easy to make, it does take a little more time to prep, so I would make this on a Sunday afternoon to eat throughout the week – the longer it sits, the more the flavors come together!

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Soba Noodle Salad with Chicken and Chili Oil adapted from How Sweet It Is

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

chili oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 star anise pods
2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1/2 cup vegetable oil

soba salad
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces soba noodles
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
5 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup freshly torn cilantro leaves

chili oil
1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Cook until the garlic and green onions begin to brown, then remove from heat and let cool completely. This can be stored in the fridge and made a few days ahead of time.

soba salad
1. Season the chicken with the brown sugar, salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add the chicken and sear until golden brown on all sides. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, until cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Cook the soba noodles as directed. When finished cooking, rinse the noodles under cold water and add them to a large bowl.

3. Toss with the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and sesame oil. Add in the chicken, cucumber, radish and cilantro, tossing well. Serve with drizzles of the chili oil.

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