Building Dinner

As spring barrels toward us with promises of fresh produce and salads galore, I remind you that cold weather has its own version of a good salad - the noodle bowl. Like a salad, they rely on layering a great combination of ingredients to blend texture, color, and flavors to give you a beautiful dish that will have you enjoying every bite:

Unlike a salad, these dishes are about bringing a little warmth to the table and giving you a heartier foundation than typical greens can provide. In this instance, some delightful sweet potato noodles make the base of this bowl, but anything from thick udon noodles to simple spaghetti can fill the role. Then it's a matter of putting together a pretty palette that combines crunchy with tender and tangy with sweet:

I think noodle bowls give so much, there's really no need to pair them with anything for dinner. They truly are a meal in themselves and a beautiful one at that. Despite the fact that warmer days and delightfully fresh produce will be showing up more and more, I'm guess noodle bowls won't be falling off my seasonal menu for some time to come yet. So grab a pair of chopsticks and a spoon and dig in!

Pork Noodle Bowls

  • 8 oz. sweet potato noodles or other thin noodles (spaghetti will work)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 boneless pork loin chops
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2-1 tsp. chili oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. miso paste
  • 2 T. sliced garlic scapes or green onions
  • 8 oz. sweet mini peppers, sliced
  • 1/2 c. shredded radish
  • 1/2 c. pickled red onions

Prepare the noodles according to the package directions, carefully dropping the whole, unpeeled eggs into the simmering water when 6 minutes of cooking time remain. Drain when cooked. Set aside the noodles and eggs.

While the noodles are boiling, season the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Sauté in a skillet containing the sesame and chili oil. Add enough chili oil to suit your tastes — you can omit it if desired. When fully cooked, remove to a cutting board and allow them to rest.

In the skillet in which you cooked the pork, add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Add the miso paste and 2 cups of water. Stir gently until the paste is dissolved. Add the garlic scapes or green onions and turn off the heat. Slice the pork into long strips and peel and carefully slice the eggs in half.

To assemble the noodle bowls, place some noodles in the bottom of an individual serving bowl. Add sliced peppers, pickled onions, shredded radish, sliced pork, and a halved egg to each bowl. Carefully spoon enough broth to the bowl to partially cover the items in the bowl. Serve immediately.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes

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