Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I am most definitely a meat-eater; however, I have an enormous amount of respect for those who choose a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Doing so can have a hugely positive impact on the lives of our furry little friends. It can also offer myriad health benefits, particularly for those struggling with obesity.
What is perhaps less obvious to most, however, is how much of impact eating vegetarian can have on the Earth. For instance, did you know that omitting meat, dairy, and eggs from your diet would benefit the earth more than driving a Prius? No joke. This website has tons of great info on all that a vegetarian lifestyle can do for the planet.
For all of these reasons, I make a concerted effort to cook vegetarian at least one dinner (and several lunches) each week. I know it’s a small gesture in the grand scheme of things, especially when compared to those who have committed to vegetarianism as a lifestyle, but I can’t help but feel like any change is better than none. Plus if all of us meat-eaters made the effort to do this, imagine the impact we would have in the aggregate!
So with all of this in mind, and in honor of Earth Day earlier this week, I’m posting the recipe for a vegan and gluten free soba noodle bowl. (I know I’m a tad behind on the Earth Day thing, but unpacking got the best of me this week. Better late than never, right?) The noodles are tossed in a spicy peanut sauce and topped with crispy fried tofu and your favorite veggies. This bowl is not only healthy for your body and the planet, but it’s also incredibly versatile. Choose veggies that are in season in your location and swap them out as the year progresses. Serve the bowl hot or cold. Play around with the sauce to make it thicker, thinner, spicier, or sweeter. The possibilities are endless! And the best part is that you’ll feel good, both physically and mentally, after eating it. Win-win.
Soba Noodles with Fried Tofu and Spicy Peanut Sauce
Ingredients for peanut dressing:
- ¼ cup of peanut butter
- ¼ cup of tahini
- 2 tablespoons of water (+ more for thinning sauce to taste)
- 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1.5 tablespoons of sesame oil
- 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of honey (or agave nectar or brown sugar)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ inch piece of ginger, grated
- 1 thai chili, diced finely (or ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes)
Peanut dressing method:
Whisk together the above ingredients until smooth. Your sauce should be just a smidge thinner than ketchup. If it’s too thick, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until you get it to your desired consistency.
Soba bowl ingredients:
- 8 ounces of soba noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 1 package of silken tofu, pressed of its juices in advance if you can
- 3 tablespoons of cornstarch (+ more if necessary)
- ½-1 cup of canola oil
- 3 green onions (green parts only), sliced diagonally about 1 inch in length
- 3 tablespoons of cilantro
- seasonable vegetables of your choosing (I used fava beans, 1 yellow onion, and a bunch of carrots peeled)
- 2 tablespoons of salted roasted peanuts, crushed
Soba bowl method:
Cook your seasonable vegetables in a method of your choosing. I used 1 lb of fava beans, steamed; 1 yellow onion, diced and sautéed; and 1 bunch of carrots, peeled and sautéed with the onion. Set aside.
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to shimmer on the surface. You’ll want the oil to come about halfway up the tofu cubes so you may need to add more than described above depending on the size of your skillet. While oil is heating, cut tofu into 1-inch cubes and place in a Tupperware container with a lid. Add cornstarch to container and toss gently until tofu is coated on all sides. Place in hot oil and fry until golden all over, about 4 minutes on the first side and then 4 minutes on the second side.
Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Toss with peanut sauce, a little bit at a time until your reach your desired sauciness, and vegetables when ready to serve (don’t toss in advance as they’ll congeal!) Top with fried tofu, peanuts, green onions, and cilantro and serve. Can be eaten hot or cold.
Peanut sauce recipe adapted from Wild Greens and Sardines.