Friday, March 1, 2013

Soy-Glazed Soba with Crispy Tofu & Vegetables

Thank you for all of the lovely comments about experiences with morning sickness and my crazy theories. You all had some very interesting insights and different perspectives that are quite thought-provoking. I love a "good think." I also appreciate the kind way in which you welcomed my news. I was actually quite nervous to share because the world is getting to be less and less friendly to "large" families, or women who choose to have more than two children. Some of my friends who have 5-6 children get a lot of negative feedback from onlookers. On one occasion, a good friend of mine and I were out eating lunch together with all six of our kids combined, and we got asked if we ran a daycare. Ha! In a way, I guess we do!...So, thank you for your kindness.

Yesterday I felt like I got hit by a bus. My eyes were glued shut from some kind of bug I got, and I basically just slept all day. I was worried that after sleeping all day that I wouldn't be able to sleep last night. Wrong. I zonked out at about 9:00 p.m. and faintly remember Paul asking me if I was now going to sleep.

I am so glad that yesterday is over. I told Paul that it felt like I was in a nightmare from the Twilight Zone. Some sort of cold or bug, affecting my eyes and dropping my energy levels to below zero on top of morning sickness was just that. A nightmare.

Anywho. I am sure you didn't come here to hear a sob story about moi. That's not why I am writing today, either. Today I feel like a super-star...relatively...and I really wanted to share a good recipe with you. I don't have a ton of time, because any day that I feel like a super-star I think I should be cleaning my house and doing laundry. Not cooking...yet.

Actually, I did make this French Toast from my site.

Oh, wow. If you haven't tried it yet, with maple syrup...if you were ever a French Toast lover as a kid, I recommend this stuff. My family has to double the recipe! All other vegan french toast recipes I have tried are soggy and gross. To me and my little buddy Samuel, this french toast is perfection.

This is the recipe I really want to share today. Total winner with the whole family.

It reminded me of one of those big, giant "panda bowls" you can get at Asian restaurants.

A few weeks ago, I was short on time for dinner and I didn't want a labor-intensive recipe...I think that's how some of my best recipes usually start...It took less than 30 minutes to prepare, including the marinating time for the tofu. Which means it qualifies for our VEGAN FAST FOOD series. Yay!

Whenever I make a new dish I always wait for that one magical, approving line from Paul, "It's a keeper!" And this dish most lovingly received that stamp of approval from him. If I don't hear that line, the meal is kicked. Once and for all. He's a pretty good judge on food, so I never take his feedback lightly, and he always tells the truth to me -- straight.

While preparing dinner, I was nervous about adding asparagus. Essie was nervous about unusually "brown noodles." But as soon as Essie took a big bite, she started chowing down her entire bowl.

Soba noodles add a different and enjoyable texture that I have not experienced before in a noodle dish. They soak up flavors and help the whole dish, vegetables and tofu included, just kind of meld together.

There were no screamingly predominant flavors; just a nice, mellow, Asian noodle dish with rich undertones from the soy sauce that my whole family loved. Kids don't like predominant flavors, I have discovered, and so this meal was so perfectly meant for kids and adults.

As I mentioned before, everything melds together very well, and Essie even ate the asparagus.

There are 4 main components, that all come together quickly.

1) Soba noodles
2) Lightly steamed vegetables
3) Marinated and crisped tofu
4) A great Soy-based sauce thickened and seasoned well

I know it looks super vegetable-y...but you really don't need to be scared of that. This was actually my bowl, and Essie loved the pasta so much that I had taken some of my pasta out and given it to her.

Because...the entire pot of pasta had been completely consumed! So my bowl was predominantly vegetables. Feel free to reduce the amount of vegetables included the first time around if you are not sure your kids will eat it. Or you could increase the amount of soba noodles added (you may need to make more sauce if you do that). But you may be surprised. You may be very happily surprised that you have a dish in which your children will eat green things!

I found Soba noodles at Whole Foods Market, but I have also seen them at Sprouts.

From Mary McDougall's Recipes in, "The Starch Solution."

Use whatever seasonal vegetables you enjoy with these flavorful buckwheat noodles paired with marinated tofu that has been sautéed until crispy and tossed with a flavorful Asian-style sauce. I replaced the snow peas with two small zucchini, cut in half, then coined and cooked in the same pot as the asparagus.



¼ cup regular or reduced-sodium soy sauce, plus more for coating noodles
1½ tablespoons agave nectar
Dash of sesame oil
1 package (10 ounces) extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into ½″ cubes
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
1½ cups snow peas, trimmed (or two small zucchini, or other favorite vegetable, cut in half and coined)
1 package (about 9.5 ounces) soba (buckwheat noodles)
Dash of soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (I just used additional rice wine vinegar...I don't cook with alcohols)
½ tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Dash of sesame oil or chili oil (optional)
Pinch of crushed red pepper (optional, I added 1-2 teaspoons of red chili paste instead, Sambal Oelek)
Sriracha hot sauce (optional)


In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, agave nectar, and sesame oil. Add the tofu and stir gently to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu cubes to the skillet and sauté, turning occasionally with a spatula, until the tofu browns on all sides. Reserve the marinade. Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and snow peas (or zucchini) and cook for 4-6 minutes, depending on how soft you want your vegetables. Drain the vegetables in a colander, and transfer the vegetables to the pan of tofu. Bring a second pot of water to a boil and add the soba noodles. Cook until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and transfer the noodles to a large bowl and add the tofu and vegetables to the bowl.

Splash noodles and vegetables with a dash of soy sauce and toss to mix. Transfer the remaining tofu marinade to a saucepan and stir in the mirin, vinegar, and garlic, and optional sambal oelek. In a small bowl, stir the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of cold water until smooth, then add to the saucepan. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook until the sauce thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the oil and crushed red pepper (omit crushed red pepper if you used sambal oelek, otherwise it will get too spicy) , if you are using them. Pour the sauce over the noodles and stir gently to mix and coat everything evenly. Serve warm or at room temperature, with Sriracha hot sauce and Soy sauce on the side, if desired.