I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “don’t knock it ’til you try it.” Well, I’ll be the first to admit that when my mom told me she was making Tofu & Broccoli With Soba Noodles and Spicy Peanut Sauce for dinner tonight, I wasn’t very excited. But because she’s one of the few people in this world who can cook anything without burning it or overcooking it, I knew her food would be good. And boy was I right! It turned out to be delicious – but not just because she is a great cook either. The sauce had a lot to do with it too!
I’ve never been a fan of tofu, but this dish is so much more than that. It’s spicy and nutty with the perfect combination of textures from chewy noodles to crunchy broccoli pieces.
Here are my tips for making it:
-Start by slicing your block of firm or extra-firm tofu into 12 pieces (or however many servings you want). The easiest way to do this is by flipping your tofu over onto its side and cutting long strips across about one inch thick. Then cut those slices in half widthwise so they’re all approximately two inches wide x four inches tall. Drizzle some olive oil on them before seasoning lightly with salt and pepper, then place under the broiler or on the grill until golden brown on one side.
-Next, make the sauce by whisking together some soy sauce (or tamari), rice vinegar, sesame oil, honey or agave nectar and hot pepper flakes to taste. Add a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with water to thicken it up if you want more body but liquid consistency is fine too. Keep this mixture in the fridge until your tofu is done!
-Now turn off the oven and toss all your broccoli florets into that same pan where we cooked our tofu earlier. Drizzle over about half an inch of olive oil followed by salt and pepper then cook for five minutes before adding them back into a large pot with boiling water just until they’re crisp tender.
-In the meantime, cook your soba noodles in a pot of boiling water according to package directions (usually just about five minutes). Drain and rinse with cold or room temperature water then toss them into a large bowl and add some soy sauce. You can also stir up that peanut sauce we made earlier if you want!
What does each ingredient bring to the mix?
Tofu: Tofu is a white, cheese-like product made from soybeans. It has a high protein content and takes on the flavor of whatever sauce or seasonings it’s cooked with. For this recipe we’re using tofu as one layer in our dish to add some texture and bulk to an otherwise vegetable heavy meal.
Broccoli: Broccoli may not be your favorite everyday veggie, but here it adds color contrast and great crunchy bites that are perfect for dunking into any leftover peanut sauce you might have around after dinner! Plus broccoli soup with croutons just feels like childhood comfort food even if you didn’t grow up eating it yourself.
The best part about broccoli? Unlike other veggies, it freezes and defrosts really well, so if you’re not sure whether or not to buy it this week because of its high price at the store- just freeze a batch!
Soba Noodles: Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour. They have a chewy texture that’s different than most other pastas on the market. You can think of them as noodles for people who don’t actually like pasta? But they also taste amazing with some cilantro in our spicy peanut sauce…
The best part about these particular soba noodles is that unlike traditional wheat based pastas, they do cook up quickly meaning you won’t be spending an hour waiting to eat dinner tonight!
Spicy Peanut Sauce: This sauce is great, and really easy to make. It’s perfect for a weeknight dinner that you’re trying to get on the table quickly!
-Soba noodles are a Japanese specialty. They are made from buckwheat and wheat flour, which gives them their characteristic earthy taste.
-There is no right or wrong way to eat soba: you can either slurp it out of the bowl with your chopsticks like soup or dish up individual portions on a plate as one would spaghetti pasta. You can also add some broth in case you’re worried about getting too messy! For an added kick, try mixing in wasabi instead of soy sauce for that spicy flavor (though be warned – this will make things even messier).
-Don’t have time? Purchase pre-packaged Soba Noodles and follow the instructions on the packaging.
-You can make this recipe with any vegetables you like, as long as they are cooked. Try broccoli or mushrooms if tofu and broccoli aren’t your thing! Just fry them up in a pan until they’re nice and tender, then add to the noodles just before serving.
-If you want more of an Asian flair, try adding some soy sauce for that savory flavor or top it with chopped peanuts for crunch (or both!).