Soba noodles, also known as buckwheat noodles, are a traditional New Year’s food in Japan. It is thought that the length of the noodles symbolizes longevity in life, which of course is a good thing to hope for going into a new year. Aside from the length of the noodles, this dish may help contribute to a long life because it’s really good for you. I know a lot of people make various healthy eating resolutions starting January 1st and this recipe won’t derail you. Over the next few weeks I’m planning to feature a number of nutritious and lower calorie meals that will help you to achieve your resolutions. I’ll put the nutrition information at the bottom of the recipe. If there’s not nutrition info, more than likely you just don’t want to know (or my 15 month old son just wouldn’t go to bed so I didn’t have time to calculate everything, which is a distinct possibility these days)!
This dish is satisfying thanks to delicious sweet and spicy Asian flavors. The distinctive flavor of sesame oil is enhanced by the sweetness of brown sugar and orange juice, and spiced up with some chile paste, ginger, and garlic. The salad is served cold, but I really prefer cooked tofu so instead of “raw” tofu as called for in the original recipe, I seasoned and broiled it to crisp it up a little and add more flavor.
This salad contains tofu and long soba noodles for a long life. Other than cooking those, which requires minimal hands on time, this is a quick weeknight meal to put together. The salad veggies include napa cabbage, bean sprouts, and carrots and provide a nice crunch in contrast to the noodles and tofu. A bagged coleslaw mix could be substituted for the napa cabbage if you’re really in a rush. I’ll share another use for napa cabbage soon too so any leftovers don’t go to waste.
I want to wish all of The Dinner Pages readers a safe New Year’s celebration and a happy and healthy 2014! For this blog, which has only been around for 2 months, I hope to continue to bring you delicious, family friendly, and (mostly) healthy recipes. Let me know what you’d like to see more of and I will get cooking!
Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu (adapted from Cooking Light Complete Meals in Minutes)
Yield: 4-5 servings
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (or finely minced fresh garlic)
1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic
1 package (12-14 ounces) firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
nonstick cooking spray
salt and pepper
1 8-10 ounce package of soba noodles (can substitute whole wheat spaghetti)
half a head of napa (Chinese) cabbage (about 3-4 cups), thinly sliced
2 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1. Prepare the salad dressing by placing the first 9 ingredients (under dressing) in a small mixing bowl and combining with a whisk. Set aside.
2. To prepare the tofu, coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the cubes of tofu in a bowl and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste. Transfer the cubes to the baking sheet and broil on high for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden, turning the cubes over once halfway through.
3. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil then add the soba noodles and cook according to package directions, about 4 minutes. Drain the noodles, rinse in cold water, then drain again.
4. In a large bowl, combine the tofu, noodles, cabbage, sprouts, carrot, and cilantro. Top with the dressing and toss together to combine.
For 1/4 of the salad: 371 calories, 9 grams of fat (calculated from myfitnesspal.com; all nutrition information is approximate)