The hotter the weather gets, the more I find myself substituting meals with just a ton of watermelon, mango or papaya, or even some kind of iced and very hydrating smoothie or drink. The heat brings out those strong cravings for all things hydrating, juicy, and cooling, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. For something more substantial and nourishing, but still in line with all the aforementioned requirements for a hot summer day meal, there is this Tropical Soba.
Papaya is one of my favorite tropical fruit. Of course, we didn’t have anything like it when I was growing up in Russia, so when I moved to Florida and tried papaya for the first time, I was blown away by its buttery consistency and complex, unfamiliar flavor. I was also pleasantly surprised by all its sunny health benefits – papaya is anti-inflammatory due to a wealth of vitamin C and beta-carotene, and some special enzymes, and contains other good stuff like potassium, magnesium, copper, fiber and folate, etc. (the list is quite long). I had a very similar story with mangoes, being completely overjoyed the first time I tried one. So when both of these fruit come into season, they sneak into all kinds of meals around here.
Soba noodles are on high rotation in our house as well. Paloma, being in her very picky eater stage, will accept some kind of soba bowl any time of day, which I’m ok with, as the protein-rich buckwheat in soba makes the noodles filling and nutritious. For her, I tend to buy the 100% buckwheat soba, just to pack in as many extra goodies as I can into her meal, but I also like wheat/buckwheat blend soba, which tends to be more affordable.
This recipe basically combines everything we want to eat at the moment. Nourishing, chilled soba noodles are the base, accompanied by sweet and luscious pieces of papaya and mango, jicama for a nice crunch, a sprinkle of desiccated coconut for some bite, basil, cilantro and mint for that herbal freshness, all dressed with a creamy coconut milk and lime sauce. A tropical dream in a bowl really. I hope you get around to making it sometime this summer :)
- 1 large, ripe mango - peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces
- ½ medium papaya - peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces
- 1 small or ½ large jicama - peeled and cut into small cubes
- basil, mint, cilantro - to taste
- juice of 2 large limes - divided
- 1 8 oz package of soba noodles (I used these)
- sea salt
- Thai chili paste/sriracha - to taste (optional)
- 1 can light coconut milk
- unsweetened desiccated coconut - for garnish
- Combine mango, papaya, jicama and herbs in a large bowl. Squeeze juice of 1 lime over the mixture, toss to coat.
- Cook soba noodles in well salted water, according to instructions on the package, take care not to overcook. Drain over a colander, rinse briefly with cold water and shake off any excess water.
- Add soba to the bowl with the fruit, toss gently and squeeze juice from the second lime over the dish. Add a little squeeze of chili paste, if using, followed by coconut milk. Toss to coat well. You can add more coconut milk to make the dish soupier, if desired.
- Distribute between bowls or serving plates, garnish with desiccated coconut and more herbs.