Believe in Magic & Spicy Asian Noodle Salad with Grilled Eggplant

There is a special magic to summer. It’s in the air – an indefinable sense that anything is possible. The feeling is strongest at dawn and again at dusk or maybe it just seems that way. I suppose it has something to do with the slight dampness that cools the air. Caught between day and night, the sky turns gold and pink. The atmosphere is almost otherworldly and filled with quiet optimism.

Not a believer? Well – look back and look around. It shouldn’t take much to change your mind. Summers past, present and future are filled with mystical, magical happenings. After all, what else but magic can explain …

The moment you suddenly realized that you weren’t going to sink like a stone. No matter how ugly it may have been, you were swimming.

How, after gazillion tries, you pulled your bat back, (finally kept your eye on the ball instead of your friend at first base) and hit it out the park.

A perfect afternoon building fanciful fairy houses with the children. The next morning, still in their jammies, the children discover evidence of sparkly visitors.

Your all-time favorite ice cream shop has your all-time favorite flavor.

After a thunderstorm roars through, a perfect rainbow forms over the lake.

After that same thunderstorm, the brook isn’t just babbling, it’s singing.

The most beautiful butterfly flutters through your garden.

Each morning, you wake not to an alarm but to the sound of birds signing.

Your very best friend in the whole world calls you out of the blue just when you need a good long chat.

After what seems like hundreds of tries, you drop that ski and do a perfect slalom around the lake.

A tiny child giggles with delight upon finding the most perfect strawberry in the pick-your-own field. And then promptly eats it!

Young players’ faces light up with pure joy and admiration when the women’s soccer team score the final, victorious goal at the World Cup.

Magic happens through acts of nature and acts of kindness. It can be the result of hours, even years, of hard work. A bit of good luck might have something to do with it as well. Sometimes I think that I believe in magic because there is no other choice. The alternative is too bleak, too distressing. Summer is a time to dream – to not only see the magic around us but to see the magic within ourselves.

Happy summer and bon appétit!

Spicy Asian Noodle Salad with Grilled Eggplant
Warm evenings send us outside for one last swim. Why not bring a picnic along? This delicious salad will make an excellent addition to your outdoor feast. Enjoy!
Serves 8

12-16 ounces pad thai rice noodles
Asian Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
About 2 1/2 pounds eggplant, sliced 1/2-inch thick
Peanut or canola oil
1/2 cup peeled, seeded and finely chopped cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped red or yellow bell pepper
3-4 scallions thinly sliced
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, toasted

Prepare the noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain well. Transfer the noodles to a bowl, drizzle with enough Asian Vinaigrette to generously coat and toss.

Can be made ahead to this point, covered and refrigerated for several hours. Bring to room temperature before continuing.

Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-hot. Brush the eggplant slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the slices on the grill and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn and grill until tender, about 2 minutes more. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, chop into bite-sized pieces.

Add the eggplant, cucumber, pepper and scallions to the noodles and toss to combine. Add more vinaigrette if necessary. Add the herbs and peanuts, toss again and serve.

Asian Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 cup

2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon or to taste Sriracha
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Put all of the ingredients in a glass jar and shake vigorously to combine. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to combine the flavors. Give the vinaigrette a good shake before using.

Cover and store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Roasted Tomato-Chipotle Ketchup
Two Years Ago – Grilled Zucchini & Feta Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette
Three Years Ago – Fresh Tomato Crostini
Four Years Ago – Spicy Cucumber & Radish Salad
Five Years Ago – Watermelon Sorbet
Six Years Ago – Caramel Sundaes with Sweet & Salty Pecans
Seven Years Ago – Gazpacho
Eight Years Ago – Mousse au Citron
Nine Years Ago– Thai Salad
Ten Years Ago – Sweet Dream Bars
Eleven Years Ago – Lobster Salad

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What are your favorite summer flavors and dishes? Feel free to share!

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2019

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