It's the busiest most wonderful time of the year. Between all the chestnut roasting, cookie baking, candy cane eating and mistletoe seeking you have to do, the last thing you want to deal with before the family arrives for the big holiday feast is a labor-intensive weeknight dinner that takes you away from the fun tasks at hand (like wrapping up all those presents).
So, make jaengban guksu, a spicily dressed noodle salad that serves two purposes: You get to eat a healthy meal that's quick and easy to prepare, and it cleans out all the excess vegetables in your fridge. Which means there's plenty of room for that holiday feast—and its leftovers.
We're assuming you already have an apple, 3 cups of salad greens (any kind you like is fine), 2 cups of mixed raw vegetables to cut up and toss in, a few cloves of garlic, and a half-teaspoon of sugar, but if you don't, add those to your list too.
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With a half hour to dinner, pull out your 3 cups of mixed greens, like spinach, kale, or lettuce and 2 cups of mixed vegetables. (Carrots, red onion, cucumber, zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms all work well. Chop or shave them.) Cook the soba noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain the noodles and run them under cold water to stop the cooking. Reserving a handful of greens, mix the vegetables, noodles, and greens in a big bowl.
In a separate, smaller bowl, mix together the hot pepper paste and pepper flakes with 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon (or more) of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger, and about a 1/4 of an apple, grated. This will make your dressing. Feel free to slice up the rest of the apple, and add it over the top for garnish. Pour the dressing into the big bowl, toss, and serve over remaining greens and apple. Devour, and relish in all the extra space in your refrigerator drawers.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).