If there’s one food item that’s been a no-fail favorite for as long as I can remember, it would have to be noodles. As a finicky kid who wasn’t down with meat, pasta night and noodle soups were my jam. In my early vegetarian days I may have tried to break some ties with noodles, what with everyone scaring me about getting enough protein and the whole low-carb fad that was going on back then.
These days, I’m all about noodles again, but not exactly like when I was a kid. For one thing, I can no longer make an entire meal out of nothing but pasta and butter. Balance is what it’s all about.
These bowls are nicely balanced, but in a way that’s every bit as satisfying as the carby pasta meals I chowed down on as a kid. For one thing, these noodles are piled with roasted veggies and spicy baked tofu. I’m pretty insistent on getting a dose of both produce and protein with my dinner, and throwing them into a bowl with noodles saves me the trouble of making a little side salad with some beany-type topping. For another thing, I went with buckwheat soba noodles instead of traditional refined wheat flour pasta. I actually really love these noodles because they have an earthy, kind of nutty flavor. Keep in mind that some soba noodles are made from regular old wheat flour, so check the ingredients if you’re going for this, and of course if you want to keep the meal gluten-free. A light sesame sauce rounds things out really nicely.
This meal is satisfying and comforting, but it doesn’t feel heavy, which is why I love it for the early spring months when things are just warming up. You could certainly adapt this recipe for any time of year though, swapping out the veggies, which I went with asparagus and carrots for, with whatever is in season. In the warmer months you might even want to serve this as a cold noodle salad, keeping the veggies raw and maybe even shaving them into ribbons or spiralizing them.
For the baked tofu:
For the roasted veggies:
- 20 asparagus spears 1 small bunch or about ¾ pound, tough ends trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2 medium carrots chopped
- ½ medium red onion sliced into strips
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the sesame soba noodles:
- 2 scallions chopped
- Toasted sesame seeds
- Black pepper
Make the baked tofu:
- Stir the soy sauce or tamari, rice vinegar, maple syrup, ginger, sriracha and sesame oil together in a shallow dish. Add the tofu cubes and toss gently to coat. Allow to marinate at room temperature for about 30 minutes, tossing once or twice to recoat the tofu with marinade.
- Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the tofu cubes in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, gently flipping halfway through, until the tofu dries out a bit and begins to darken around the edges.
Make the roasted veggies:
- While the tofu bakes, toss the asparagus, carrots, onion and oil together in a roasting pan or oven-safe skillet. Place it in the oven with the tofu and bake 15-18 minutes, until the asparagus and carrots are just tender. Remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Make the sesame soba noodles:
- While the tofu bakes and veggies roast, stir the soy sauce or tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil and garlic together in a small bowl. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add soba noodles. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain into a colander and return them to the pot. Add the soy sauce mixture and toss to coat.
- Divide the noodles into bowls and top with tofu and roasted veggies. Sprinkle with scallions, sesame seeds and black pepper. Serve.