Coconut & Cilantro Noodles

Happy Halloween! Anyone going as Hurricane Sandy for Trick-or-Treat?

Here in Brooklyn, we survived the Frankenstorm. Spent all day Monday locked up in the apartment, listening to the wind howl and the rain beat our windows. We watched from our third story window as a few cars drove past, and people walked into the bar across the street. The power stayed on, and I made soup and apple cake. It wasn’t until Tuesday morning that we realized the extent of the damage.

In our neighborhood, trees have been uprooted:

and a crosswalk signal hangs delicately from it’s pole.

But through it all, the beer hall next door stayed open.
 I realize how lucky we are, and my heart goes out to everyone who’s lives have been effected by this storm.

Now, on to the food. My mom told me (so it MUST be true) that if you try any food ten times, by the tenth time you will like it. I’ve always been a broccoli hater, so I’ve been experimenting with her theory. Every year (sometimes even twice) I buy a little broccoli and make some fancy meal with it. I’ve discovered over the years that there are two ways to make it that really taste grand. Puree it into some kind of broccoli pesto or sauce – or roast it. Really, I can devour any vegetable that has been roasted. Especially when it has been doused in a thai-scented coconut and cilantro sauce.

I used a bright yellow cauliflower in here, but of course any cauliflower, or even brussels sprouts, will do. And I bet a homemade curry paste would be just fantastic in this, but with my only current method of transportation being walking – there was no way to get to any kind of shop that stocks lemongrass, galangal or kaffir lime leaves. Next time.

Coconut & Cilantro Noodles

1 small head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
8 oz. tempeh, cubed
2-3 T. coconut oil
sea salt
6-8 oz. soba or udon noodles
1 bunch of cilantro
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 c. coconut milk
1 T. green curry paste
1 tsp. agave syrup/sugar/honey
toasted large flake coconut for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425. Place the broccoli and cauliflower either in a bowl or right onto the baking sheet and drizzle with the oil and some salt. Toss to coat. Spread onto the baking sheet in a single layer. This is where a good food blogger would tell you to roast the tempeh on a separate baking sheet so you can take them our as they are ready. However, I’m kinda lazy and I threw the tempeh cubes onto the same sheet as the broccoli. It all got done at the same time, and I had one less dish to wash. So, making sure your tempeh is also coated in oil and salted, place however many baking sheets you’ve decided to use into the oven and roast for about 30 minutes, flipping once halfway. You’re looking for browning all across the board.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil and add the noodles. Cook for the amount of time specified on the package (mine said 4-6 minutes) then drain. Set aside.

To make the sauce, combine most of the cilantro (reserving a little for garnish) the lime juice, coconut milk, curry, sweetener and 1/4 – 1/2 a teaspoon of salt in a food processor or blender and puree until smoothish. You’ll probably still have little bits of cilantro, and that’s quite alright.

In a serving bowl combine the noodles with the contents of your roasting pans. Pour the sauce over top and toss gently to coat everything evenly. Serve topped with the extra cilantro and coconut flakes, if you’re using them.

serves 3-4

Sesame 1-2-3

Today I want to share with you a recipe that has been around the block with me. It has seen many incarnations, kitchens and dinner guests. But the other night  this impromptu variation really wowed us, and I thought you’d appreciate it. It’s quick, easy, and done all in one pot. It inspires multiple add-ins. It’s what you’re making for dinner tonight (I promise you won’t be disappointed)!

I used to make this with some wilted greens and browned tofu. It was great.  If you’ve got a bunch of spinach in the fridge, I recommend going this route. The tofu adds some extra heft if you’re super hungry – but I find that in this heat I really love the crunchy raw veggies and no tofu (the miso and tahini add plenty of protein if you worry about that sort of thing).

I found these sunflower sprouts at the market over the weekend. They are bright, crunchy and sweet. So if you see some, totally pick them up. If you’re scared of sprouts, these are good “beginner” sprouts to try. But if you can’t find them, sub any sprouts you do like, or some micro greens would be divine. Really, just anything you like that’s green.

I used a julienne peeler for the carrots. It makes long thin strips that tangle up with the noodles. Other options are to make long ribbons made with your vegetable peeler, or grate them with a box grater or with the grating disc of your Cuisinart. And if you’re cooking for veggie newbies, you can throw the carrots and sprouts on the plate with the drained noodles and toss the whole thing with the sauce. The heat from the pasta wilts the veggies just a bit and takes off the raw edge.

Oh, and p.s., the name for this dish comes from the 3 kinds of sesame in it. Sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil, and tahini, which is a sesame seed paste, similar to peanut butter, and used in hummus.

p.p.s. – I’m linking to Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, who are hosting a great resource for all aspects of healthy living. Good work.

Sesame 1-2-3

2 T. unhulled sesame seeds
8 oz. soba noodles
2-3 medium carrots, grated
2 c. sunflower sprouts
1/4 c. tahini
1/4 c. light miso (like white or chickpea)
1 tsp. shoyu or tamari
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil (plus more for drizzling)

Toast the seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and just starting to brown. Careful, sesame seeds burn very quickly, so keep an eye (and nose) out.

Bring a pot of water to boil. Scoop out about a 1/2 c. of water and set aside. Add the noodles to the water and cook for the amount of time specified on the box.

While the pasta cooks, make the sauce. Combine the tahini, miso, shoyu and oil. Add the hot water you took from the pot. I like to put it all in an old salsa jar and shake until combined. You could also whisk it in a bowl. I also grate my carrots while I’m waiting for the water to boil – just a time saving tip.

Drain the pasta when it is tender. Transfer the noodles back to the pot, or into a serving bowl. I put a handful of the veggies in too, but that’s optional, or you can put them all in, depending on how crisp or tender you like em, and pour the sauce over it all. Toss to combine and coat everything with the sauce.

Serve topped with any remaining raw veggies, the sesame seeds and a generous drizzle of the toasted sesame oil.

serves 4

Thai Peanut Noodles

I don’t know what it is about noodles that always makes me happy. I mean, they’re hard to eat – especially when there’s other stuff tangled up with them – and I always eat too much. But, my boy Darren just loves ‘em, and I can’t seem to resist myself. And because I can’t resist so often, I’ve come up with lots of variations. This great Thai peanut sauce version is inspired by Heidi Swanson’s Almond Soba Noodles

Soba noodles are different from spaghetti. They are usually made with buckwheat which gives them a heartier texture.  In a pinch you could use the Italian noodles that are hanging out in your pantry, but this dish is really better with Asian style noodles like soba or udon. Soba are the skinny ones, and udon are wider and usually made of wheat. There’s also somen, which are super thin. Pick your poison.

This recipe uses tofu as the protein. I struggled for years to brown tofu in a skillet and have it come out looking (and tasting) nice. So if you have a preferred way of browning tofu go ahead and do it, but if not, here are a few tips:
1. Get the firmest tofu you can find, I like Wildwood Sprouted Tofu (the sprouting also helps with digestibility).
2. Sprinkle a little salt on the skillet before laying the tofu down, then a bit more on top.
3. Put the tofu down in a cold skillet and slowly heat it up.
4. Don’t move it for a few minutes so that it can form a crust and won’t stick.
Of course, feel free to sub your protein of choice, or just add lots of veggies (the peanut butter is surely enough protein in itself). You can use any greens you’d like here, or whatever else you’ve got hanging around. I bet broccoli would be good. If you do use a vegetable that takes a little longer to cook, remove the tofu from the pan, add a little more oil and cook the veggies separately. 

Thai Peanut Noodles

8 oz. soba noodles
1 T. peanut or sesame oil
8 oz. firm tofu
a few pinches of sea salt
a small bunch of greens, I used kale
1/2 c. peanut butter
1 T. red curry paste
1 t. shoyu
1/4 c. toasted peanuts, roughly chopped 

Bring a pot of water to boil on high heat. Add soba noodles and cook for the time directed on the package (usually about 5 minutes). Drain and set aside, reserving 1/2 c. of cooking water.

Cut the tofu lengthwise into 4 slabs. Wrap the slabs in a clean dish towel and gently press for a few minutes to remove excess water. Stack the slabs and slice into thin strips, about as wide as a pencil.

Pour the oil into a large skillet, and sprinkle a little salt over it. Lay the tofu into the pan in a single layer, making sure they are coated with oil on the bottom. Turn the heat to medium and let cook for 3-4 minutes at least, or until they have formed a crust. Resist the urge to stir or flip, even if it sounds like it’s cooking like crazy. If you move them too soon they will stick. After a few minutes use a thin spatula to get underneath the tofu and flip. Sprinkle a little more salt and let cook until 2 sides are browned, another 4-5 minutes. In the last minute, add the greens to the pan and cook until they are bright green, stirring a few times.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Add the peanut butter, curry paste and shoyu to a jar and pour in a little of the hot pasta water. Shake well. Keep adding hot water, a little at a time, until you have a thin sauce. It will thicken as it sits, so be sure to make it thin enough. I used the whole 1/2 c.

Transfer the noodles to a serving platter and combine with half the sauce. Add the tofu and greens and carefully stir again. Pour in the rest of the sauce and sprinkle with the peanuts before serving.

serves 4