I should’ve posted this when the weather was bonkers-hot and the idea of cooking *anything* was repellent but I think we all know I am not that organised. It’s still a perfect noodle salad for summer and the effort is minimal, so hear me out. Soba noodles take but two minutes in boiling water and I’ll let you into a secret – hardly military base level stuff this – I often use those ready-cooked salmon fillets from the supermarket. I know. This is where someone jumps in to tell me they’re cooked in arsenic steam or vapours of Piers Morgan. Chop chop now, head right down to the comments before the urge gets cold.

They’re really handy for a working lunch because you just flake them into whatever you’ve made and it feels pretty luxurious. You didn’t even look at a steamer basket! No burns for you. Pretty much any vegetables will work here, but I like to use a combo of avocado and cucumber if it’s really hot because: no cook. I’ve also enjoyed those little baby courgettes that are around now though — sliced thickly, they take just a minute to soften to optimum level and you can cook a handful of edamame or peas at the same time (just lob them in with the noodles for the last minute of cooking and save water like a hero).

The real superpower here though is the furikake. What is this word? It is the name of a Japanese seasoning consisting of seaweed, bonito flakes, sesame and other savoury bits and bobs, to be sprinkled on top of rice and other cooked foods – i.e. you use it as a finishing seasoning, rather than add it as an ingredient during cooking. Like most seasonings, it adds umami and the seaweed here ties in very well with the fish, as you can imagine. It’s great on loads of things including rice, eggs, tofu, soup, noodles or spaghetti. Go wild*. There are lots of varieties of furikake, and this is one we made with bits that were hanging about. The Japanese do these seasoning mixtures so well. See also: shichimi tōgarashi.

Anyway, this is a bold salad that’s cooling, delicious and takes barely any effort to make once you’ve got your furikake together which, to be honest, is an investment for the future anyway. What more do you want?

* There is an excellent and really quite mad furikake recipe from Freddie Janssen in Issue 02 of Pit. What are you waiting for?! 

Cold Soba Noodles with Avocado, Salmon and Furikake Recipe

This makes a substantial, dinner-sized salad for 2 greedy people. If you’re making it for a lighter meal I’d suggest reducing the noodles to 150g and adding 1 salmon fillet.

For the furikake (scale up as needed)

1 tablespoon toasted white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds
1 tablespoon blitzed up seaweed, such as nori
Large pinch salt
Large pinch dried red chilli flakes
Large pinch bonito flakes (or ground dried shrimps or anchovies)

For the salad

1 or 2 cooked salmon fillets
200g soba noodles
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
1/4 cucumber, quartered and sliced
A handful of frozen edamame beans
A handful of mint leaves
A handful of coriander leaves
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Chilli flakes

Make the furikake by mixing all the ingredients together and storing in an airtight container.

Cook the soba noodles for 1 minute in boiling water then add the edamame and bring back to the boil. Drain and run under cold water until cool. Add the sesame oil and mix through the noodles (easiest with your hands).

Combine the noodles and edamame with the avocado, cucumber, herbs, soy, vinegar and a good pinch of chilli flakes to taste. Mix well and serve sprinkled with furikake.

Broad Bean Salad

For a short period before heading off to university I went back to live with my parents. As a ‘mature student’ at 21 I’d already been living elsewhere for three years and so it was a major change, especially since I’d made a string of poor choices when choosing houses. One that immediately springs to mind is the place I shared with six young men. SIX.

Can you imagine how bad that was? Bathroom grime of unprecedented levels; a fridge no-one dared open; pints of red wine spilled on the carpet (actually, was that me?); broken windows; stinky boxers glued down everywhere and a neverending chorus of bodily functions. The house was filled with Man Fug so thick you could bang your head on it.

There were many benefits to moving home, then, including pleasures such as not waking up to remember that someone had projectiled in a helicopter motion in the front room (this happened, he sort of spun around as he was being sick therefore spraying all four walls and furniture with the contents of his stomach + 12 cans of Stella).

The kitchen was unusable because obviously no one ever cleaned it, so it was good to be back in the parents’ shiny, orderly, well-stocked kitchen, to have dinner cooked for me, to not fear food poisoning or have to decide whether it’s a better life choice to just throw a pan in the bin rather than bother trying to wash it.

One of the best things about being back, though, was Sunday lunch, and there’s a meal my mum used to cook which apparently she didn’t consider anything special but I absolutely loved, to the point where I still think about it now. It doesn’t sound fancy, and isn’t, but it has some of my favourite ingredients.

Salsa verde - put it on your potatoes.

There was a roast chicken, stuffed under the skin with a mixture of butter, herbs and lemon zest, new potatoes boiled and drenched in salsa verde and finally, a broad bean salad with crisp pancetta and a vinaigrette. The smell of the roasting chicken would fill the kitchen while Dad picked the broad beans from the garden.

We’d sit around the table and discuss important matters like whether or not Dad had won on the horse racing and which of my ex-boyfriends was really the worst. I’d pick lazily at the dish of remaining potatoes, scooping out the oily pools of salsa verde with my fingers.

There was never any broad bean salad left. I think mum’s version was based on a Delia Smith recipe but I just make it with whatever combo of herbs, pork and onion I have around at the time. This recipe has lardons of bacon and a cider vinegar dressing and it’s a lovely salad to make whatever the age of the beans – even when they’re old and tough, the other ingredients are robust enough to handle it. I always think of the salad when the new season comes though, and so here we are today.

I haven't touched the colours on this photo. SO green!

Broad Bean Salad with Bacon, Herbs and Vinaigrette

1kg broad beans (un-podded weight)
80g bacon, cut into lardons
1 spring onion, green parts finely sliced
1 tablespoon each finely chopped chives, mint and parsley

For the dressing

1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper

Remove the beans from their pods. Place in a saucepan with some water, bring to the boil, cook for 2 minutes, then drain. Place the beans in a bowl of cold water. Squeeze each bean from its tough skin (this is by no means necessary, it just means they’re extra tender and bright green).

Cook the bacon lardons until crisp and add to the beans with the herbs and spring onion.

Shake all dressing ingredients in a sealed jar until emulsified. Add a tablespoon of dressing to the salad and mix. You may want more, depending on how many broad beans you found inside your pods. Check seasoning and serve.