Spring makes me happy. It’s not just the sweet strawberries and ripe cherries that start popping up everywhere this time of year, or the yellow daffodils and tulips that tell me that winter is a distant memory. It’s the baby carrots and happy easter radishes, crunchy sweet sugar snap peas, and tender stalks of asparagus that make me want to cook and play in the kitchen. From radish dips to noodles bursting with spring produce, I’m energized to find ways to easily work in these yummy seasonal treats into my weekly meals.
And it’s not only because I love the taste of spring. Do you know how many nutritious goodies (including energy!) these vegetables and fruits provide?! I love looking at Ashley Koff’s spring vegetable “picks” list to feel great knowing that I’m treating my body and my family’s health right! The key of course is to “try” not go overboard–playing with new recipes should be fun, not stressful. That’s why I love simple one dish meals like soba noodles. I use my go-to sauce from the Joyful 12 kitchen learning lab and just mix up the seasonal produce on hand.
One of my new favorite things to add to soba noodles is roasted tofu. It sounds a little crazy, but I’m a newcomer to tofu as a protein source that makes it home in my shopping cart! I just never played with it much until recently when I was trying out a recipe that called for roasting it. In just 20-minutes, roasted tofu develops the most beautiful brown color and deep flavor without having to pan sear or fry it in a bunch of oil. And while I have the oven on anyway, I throw in some diced asparagus for ten minutes–just long enough to develop flavor but not lose the vibrant green hues.
When it comes to play, my motto is always to have fun making mistakes. Take this goof for example. I put my cooked soba noodles into my pan, along with the sauce and veggies and stirred and stirred and stirred, and guess what. The noodles broke! So much for long beautiful soba noodles–more like soba rice! But that just gave me the chance to make this recipe one more time for my husband, Jim, who adores soba noodles. After a little research, I discovered that the trick to not breaking your cooked noodles is to first wash them after cooking them in a big bowl of cold water (to remove some of their starch) AND to add your sauce and veggies off the heat and gently toss them just before serving. Version one was still delicious!
If you’re looking for a seriously happy and delicious spring meal, perfect for Meatless Monday, grab some sugar snap peas and asparagus and let the soba noodle party commence!
- Asparagus, 1 bunch
- Olive oil, 3 TBS (divided)
- Salt, ½ tsp (divided)
- Tofu, firm, 14 oz
- Black pepper, ⅛ tsp
- Green onion, 1 bunch
- Sugar snap peas, 1 cup
- Ginger (fresh), 1tsp finely chopped
- Soba noodles (100% Buckwheat) 7 oz
- Hot pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp
- Rice wine vinegar, 2 TBS
- Tamari (gluten free soy sauce), 1/4 cup
- Sesame oil, 1/4 cup
- Ginger (fresh), 2 tsp finely grated
- Take 5 minutes to get out all your ingredients, measuring and cooking equipment needed, and place them on a cookie sheet within easy reach.
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Cut asparagus on the bias into medium sized pieces. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt.
- Dry off tofu and cut into medium sized (bite-sized) cubes, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper.
- Place tofu and asparagus on two different baking pans lined with parchment paper--roast the tofu for 20 minutes and the asparagus for 10 minutes at 425F.
- Cut green onion into small pieces. Set aside some of the green tops to use as a garnish on the noodles when you serve them.
- Cut the sugar snap peas into bite sized pieces.
- Chop 1 teaspoon of ginger and set aside for the vegetable saute. Finely grate 2 additional teaspoons ginger for the noodle sauce.
- Make the pasta sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl and stirring together.
- Cook noodles separately, according to their package instructions (approximately 5-7 minutes in boiling water--DO NOT salt!). Get a colander ready so you can rinse the noodles right after they are done cooking in cool water. Note: soba noodles should not be al dente, but you also don’t want to overcook them so taste one before pulling the pot off the heat. Once they have been rinsed, you’re now going to dunk the cooked noodles in a big bowl of cold water and “wash them” of their starch. Use your hands and rub them in the water. Drain again in the colander. Now they are ready to be used.
- In a pre-heated pan, saute green onion, peas and ginger in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat for 3 minutes.
- Add roasted asparagus, tofu, and your sauce to the saute and continue cooking another 2 minutes.
- Gently toss sauteed vegetables and sauce with the noodles in a bowl (off the heat).
- Serve in bowls garnished with a little extra green onion and sprinkled with hot pepper flakes, if you like it extra spicy!