Here's a keeper recipe for a vegan Sesame Soba Noodle Bowl with Sauteed Spinach and Tofu, to get your new year off to a healthy start!
Hereabouts there's not much sense of the calendar turning other than the school thing. One week of having an eight-year-old around all day can get even a perfectly sane person off-kilter, and I am not that sane. So it is with hope and joy and many reasons that have nothing to do with the New Year that I await Jan. 2, the day winter break finally gives way to a few more weeks of school.
Having Jay around for the holidays also means many, many demands for food that are fun to cook, but don't exactly scale the "healthy" charts, especially during a time of year that already makes too many demands on the waistline. The "p" word is usually at the top of the list. "Mom, can we have pizza rolls today?", "Mom, hasn't it been a long time since you made a pizza?", "Mom, can we have a picnic lunch today and order some pizza?"
As you can see, there are many ways to ask the same question accompanied by an appealing squint of the eyes and a pout that's impossible to say no to.
But for the adults among us, the New Year also brings with it more of those inevitable pangs and twinges of guilt, especially when one looks in the mirror and discovers a little more of oneself.
So this New Year's there's going to be more of the "my-body-is-a-temple" stuff and less pizza, or so the plan is. And while Jay is not going to find out about it before he sits down at the dinner table, I am not too worried he'll complain. I plan to make it all taste good, you see. 😉
Besides, how can you go wrong with anything you can layer and serve up in a bowl. Long before bowls became a thing, Buddha and all, I've been a fan of eating just about everything out of a bowl. Here's a fact about me you didn't know: I find it hard to make my way around a plate. All that food spread out on a dish just makes me me want to squish it all together in the middle and spoon it into my mouth.
My Sesame Soba Noodle Bowl with Spinach and Tofu is incredibly delicious, but what you'll also love about it, as the new year dawns, is that it is extremely low fat and great for you. There's only a tiny bit of fat here, in the sauteed spinach and in the sesame seeds, but then that's fat you gotta love, right, because it's good for you! The rest of it, the noodles, their sauce, and the tofu, are impeccably free of any added fats.
But there is a ton of flavor in this soba noodle bowl. So much so, in fact, that I was scooping up those noodles with my chopsticks straight out of the pan and stuffing them into my mouth. You'll likely be, ahem, far more elegant about it, but you get the idea? Besides, did you know that soba noodles are considered lucky new year's eve food in Japan?
Hope everyone's looking forward to 2017! My resolution this year is to eat, cook, and share many, many more recipes on this blog than I did in 2016, when a number of things pulled me in every direction. What's yours?
Sesame Soba Noodle Bowl with Sauteed Spinach and Tofu
For sesame soba noodles:
- 8 oz soba noodles
- 2 tablespoon white sesame seeds (lightly toasted)
- 2 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon sriracha (can sub chili garlic sauce for a delicious variation)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or mirin, or can sub with apple cider vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon ginger (crushed into a paste)
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed into a paste)
For sauteed spinach
For the baked tofu:
- 16 oz extra firm tofu (cut horizontally into six slices)
- 1 teaspoon sriracha (can sub with chili garlic sauce, as for the noodles)
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or mirin. Can sub with apple cider vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
Make the soba noodles:
- Cook the soba noodles in water until al dente. Drain.
- In a large bowl, toss together the drained soba noodles with all the other ingredients.
Make the sauteed spinach:
- Heat the oil in a skillet.
Add the sesame seeds and toast for a minute. Add the red pepper flakes, stir in, and then add spinach leaves and soy sauce.Toss the spinach well to mix and let it cook until completely wilted and spinach is tender. It shouldn't take more than 3-5 minutes.Turn off the heat.
Make the baked tofu:
- In a large bowl or dish, mix all ingredients except the tofu.Place the sliced tofu in the bowl and gently turn to coat the tofu with the marinade.Let the tofu stand in the marinade at least 30 minutes.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.Line a baking sheet (preferably one with a rim) with aluminum foil, and coat with an oil spray.Place the tofu in the baking sheet, in a single layer. Bake 35-45 minutes, turning over once halfway through, or until the tofu is lightly golden-brown and feels firm and chewy.Cut into ½-inch cubes.
Assemble the bowl:
- To assemble the bowl, layer on the soba noodles, the spinach and the tofu. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.