I have been a little indulgent lately with my recipes. Personally, I think that everything could be significantly less healthy. I avoid processed foods in my recipes, and try to incorporate some sort of nutritional value and balance, even if it is merely broccoli as a consolation prize to healthfulness (see previous post). However, I will acknowledge the abundance of cheese, and frequent use of simple carbohydrates. In a temporary attempt at balance, I made a cheese-free dish, full of whole grains, fiber, and raw vegetables: soba noodle salad with vegetables and tofu (mind you, those are buckwheat noodles). I honestly love tofu, and in this dish, it is simply cubed and tossed in (no roasting or frying). So if you are generally skeptical of tofu, this is probably not for you, but I think you could easily substitute another lean protein (chicken breast, pork loin?) I found this recipe online; it’s from Cooking Light Magazine, but I made a few changes due to personal preference.
Soba Noodle Salad (adapted from Cooking Light Magazine)
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (plus extra for garnish)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 garlic clove, cracked
1 teaspoon Sriracha*
8 ounces uncooked soba noodles
3 cups very thinly sliced Napa (Chinese) cabbage
½ red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 cup shredded carrot
Chopped scallions for garnish
1 package firm tofu, drained and cut into ½ inch cubes
Put a pot of water onto boil and cook soba noodles according to the directions on the package.
To prepare dressing, combine first 8 in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. If you have time, you may want to prepare the dressing first so you can allow it to sit and the garlic flavor can infuse. Remove the garlic clove before assembling the salad.
To prepare salad, combine noodles and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing, tossing well to coat. Garnish with scallions, extra sesame seeds, and extra Sriracha if desired.
The final product has a clean, fresh flavor, but it’s a little flat. The original recipe calls for orange juice, which I omitted because I don’t like it. However, a tablespoon or so of citrus juice (perhaps lime) may have rounded it out. As the salad wasn’t particularly spicy, I feel the dressing could have handled two teaspoons of Sriracha. However, this is easily amended by an extra drizzle, as garnish. If you want it more garlicky, you could grate or paste a small garlic clove and add it to the dressing, but I enjoyed the purity of the flavor as is, with just a hint of garlic. Be warned: tossing the ingredients will cause the tofu to break up a little bit, making for a less than pristine aesthetic. The original recipe also calls for bean sprouts, which I regret omitting. They would have added a nice dimension. This recipe makes a HUGE quantity, almost too much. I see no reason why this recipe couldn’t be halved. But for grad students entrenched in midterms, the quantity has a practical aspect. Readily prepared soba noodle salad has its selling point during midterms, even if I was tired of it by the sixth portion. Sometimes, just sometimes, the perfect meal must be sacrificed for school. Oh, well. At the risk of sounding immodest, I am generally adept at avoiding such tragedy.
*See glossary for definitions.