It’s been repetitive days in my kitchen lately as I fall into the fatigue stage of quarantine. Where cooking was fun and exciting, a welcome distraction, it has now become a chore. I find myself cooking the same things over and over. A delicious grocery delivery inspired me to break from the monotony of the same meals and create something new. Originally, I set out to make something very different from what the end product was – and the end product was so delicious I couldn’t imagine what the original recipe would even be like.
In the back of the pantry, we all have an ingredient that we don’t use and keep saying “one day I will use that”. For me, that ingredient is edamame noodles. I have been craving ramen, lo mein eggy noodles that melt flavours in the broth and fill my happy noodle shaped insides with happy noodle shaped goodness. We have not been successful in procuring this kind of noodle, a shame for my belly but not for the box of edamame noodles in the pantry. You can use either type of noodle in this meal, or even soba noodles. Whatever you have on hand will be good. The edamame noodles are a healthy and gluten free alternative to have on hand, though.
In Santa Cruz, California, there exists a grocery store where my friends and I go to stock up on healthy snacks before we head to the beach. This place is known as New Leaf Organic Market. Last year, stopping into New Leaf with a dog on a leash and sand between our toes, grabbing a snack for the drive back to Oakland, my good friend Veronica and I discovered their cold sesame noodle salad. This was the cold noodle salad of a lifetime, served in a compostable takeaway bowl with the ingredients printed onto the label so we could remake that.
This meal is the enhanced version of that salad, using the fresh vegetables we have on hand – and that are also in season! Asparagus is a gift, and nearing the end of its prime growing season, so you should go out and get some my friends. Let’s dive in…
The first step is to create the marinade for the tofu. This is where my recipe making went off the rails and I just did what I thought would be good. In a bowl, mix together some very finely crushed fresh garlic and ginger (about one clove of garlic and the equivalent of one clove of ginger), then 1 tsp of miso paste, 50mL of soy sauce (or tamari if you are making gluten free), some rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and a squeeze of lime juice. Mix all of this together vigorously, until the garlic and ginger and miso paste are well incorporated into the rest of the mix. Then, add your thickly cut tofu into this. The tofu is dealer’s choice – you can use semi-firm, silken, or whatever your heart desires. Pat it dry and squeeze as much water as you can without worrying about squeezing it all out, cut into 1/2 inch thick strips and then squares and place it into the sauce mixture to soak up all that delicious flavour.
In the meantime, place some crushed cashews into the oven at about 200ºC, roast them until they are browned, and remove from the oven to keep on the side until serving.
Next, cut the asparagus into about 1 inch sections, and then cut the ends off of your broccolini. I love tenderstem broccoli, and think it adds so much to a dish that regular broccoli doesn’t (maybe simply because it looks cooler).
Heat some oil in a skillet, just enough to coat the bottom, then toss the vegetables in. Pour some sesame oil over the top of this, no more than a tablespoon worth, and if you have black sesame seeds on hand, add some of those as well. Let the vegetables sauté for a minute, and then add a small glass worth of water (CAREFULLY!). Cover with a lid, and let the vegetables steam. Timing is to your own discretion – if you want them to still have some snap to them then don’t add too much water and keep an eye on them, or if you want them softer then add more water and keep alternating with the lid off and on.
Their deep green colour will be the dead giveaway that they are ready. Remove them from the heat, and begin to cook your noodles according to the directions.
For toppings, I also chopped some spring onion and cucumber as well as some fresh mint and basil leaves for an extra bonus.
It is all ready to come together once you drain your noodles. I put them directly into the skillet with the broccolini and asparagus, then dumped the tofu and its sauce over the top, and finally added the onion, cucumber, herbs, and cashews. (Note: I didn’t cook the tofu, but if you would like to if could be fried or baked to your liking. The warmth from the noodles and the skillet were enough for me.) Using two spatulas, I flipped the mixture about to make sure it was all incorporated, and then served! VOILA! Top with salt and pepper if you would like, a squirt of lime juice, and Sriracha if that’s your thing.
There are a lot of moving parts to this recipe, but they all come together swimmingly for a healthy and tasty end product.
Miso Tofu with Asparagus and Broccolini
- ~100g broccolini, ends cut off
- ~100g asparagus, cut into 1 inch lengths
- 1 Tbsp black sesame seeds (optional)
- a handful of cashews, crushed or chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- the equivalent of 1 clove of garlic of fresh ginger, crushed
- 50 mL soy sauce or Tamari
- 3 Tbsp sesame oil, divided
- 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp miso paste
- 1/2 block of tofu, patted dry and cut into large squares
- 1/4 cucumber, sliced lengthwise
- 1 bunch of spring onion (white ends only), chopped
- a handful of fresh mint and basil leaves
- fresh lime
- 200g noodles of choice – edamame noodles, lo mein, or soba
- Mix together miso, garlic, ginger, soy sauce or Tamari, 2Tbsp sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar in a medium bowl. Squeeze some lime juice in, and add the tofu – tossing until covered. Let sit while you prepare the rest.
- Roast chopped cashews on baking sheet at 200ºC until browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and place on side for serving.
- Heat a skillet with a neutral oil over medium heat, and once hot add the asparagus and broccolini. Add 1 Tbsp of sesame oil and black sesame seeds. Toss in pan, and let sauté. Add a small amount of water and cover. Continue adding small amounts of water for softer vegetables, or remove lid and continue to sauté. Remove from heat once cooked to your liking.
- Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain and add to the skillet with the vegetables.
- Add tofu and sauce, chopped spring onion, cucumber, and cashews to the skillet. Toss to incorporate, and serve.
I love when cooking one thing, it becomes something else right before your eyes ! This was a fun kitchen experiment for me, that I hope you can make for a healthy lunch or dinner treat.
Also! I have updated the cooking with Rachel kitchen playlist. This week I plan to continue with my experiments to see what other yummy recipes I can invent or try to share with you! One of those includes a nectarine and blueberry galette…..