The Quick and Easy Vegetarian Spa Meal… at home

sobayum2.jpg Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how much time it takes to prepare a tasty, healthy meal. Although we try very hard to make healthy, nutritious meals centered around vegetables, when we get really busy it’s easy to start relying on boxed meals and filling starches. This is one reason I love dinner parties- you put a lot of effort into making an elaborate meal to share with your friends, and when it’s all over you usually have leftovers to eat for a few days. High level of yum, and (after the fact), not so much effort required. We ran out of the leftovers from our Friday dinner party this afternoon when DH enjoyed the last of the lettuce wraps and potato salad. So, when I came home starving after a great yoga class and saw DH chomping happily on wheat yakisoba noodles, I wasn’t quite sure what to eat. I remembered my new resolve to eat better- and thought it just wouldn’t feel right to waste all that healthy energy expended on yoga with a lazy meal- but I was tired. Luckily I’d bookmarked a recipe in the April issue of Cooking Light for what they called a “Spicy Cucumber Noodle Salad with Edamame” that sounded both easy and full of healthy ingredients. Only thing was- I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients it called for, like cucumber or bean sprouts. I didn’t let that discourage me, though. We also had a surplus of broccoli in the refrigerator, so first I chopped up some long stemmed florets for my favorite chili garlic roasted broccoli recipe, tossed that in the oven and then got down to converting the soba noodle recipe to be both gluten free and use the vegetables I had on hand. Cucumber is sweet and crunchy, so I substituted my favorite sweet, crisp vegetable- jicama. And while we didn’t have any bean sprouts, we did have a green pepper, and I thought if it was cut thinly enough it just might approximate the crunch of fresh bean sprouts. The dish looked a little bland without any colorful accents, so I added some leftover julienned carrots for color and additional crunch. It was a little different from the original, but even more to my taste- and I was able to complete it by the time the broccoli was ready to come out of the oven. I sat down- took a bite, and was in heaven. I felt like I had been transported to some alternate spa universe of yoga and crisp, light meals- and it was lovely. DH wasn’t really hungry, but he tried a bite on my urging and agreed that it was really yummy. I guess fast food actually can be good, and good for you… So the next time it comes up, I’m really going to try to reach for the broccoli instead of some starchy thing I think will fill my stomach- it makes me so much happier, and makes me feel better too.

Yoga Worthy Soba Noodle Salad
Ingredients
8 oz uncooked soba (100% buckwheat noodles- I use a Japanese variety which has one of the factory disclaimers but doesnt seem to bother me. Orgran has a dedicated Gluten free buckwheat pasta, though it is spiral)
1 cup frozen shelled edamame AKA green soybeans (For soy allergy, substitute white beans or green peas)
1 cup diced english cucumber, sans seeds OR 1 cup diced jicama
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup Carrot Matchsticks
1/2 thinly sliced green pepper
Dressing
1/4 cup reduced fat mayonnaise (OR vegan for egg intolerance)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp white GF miso (you can use specialty chickpea etc. miso for soy allergy)
1 tsp Braggs GF soy sauce (leave out, try balsamic vinegar or vegetable stock for soy allergy)
1 tsp chile paste with garlic
1 tsp dark sesame oil

1 1/4 cup fresh bean sprouts (Optional)
Grilled tofu for extra protein (Optional)

Directions
Cook soba in boiling water for two minutes or so, and add edamame. Bring back to a boil and let boil for two more minutes. Place in strainer and submerge in cold water, drain again and let cool. Put noodles in bowl, add assorted vegetables up to sliced green pepper. Combine dressing ingredients and whisk, pour over pasta and mix thoroughly. Top with Bean Sprouts if desired and Tofu if desired.
Notes
This was an awesome, light noodle salad. Yummy dressing, loved the crunchy veggies. You can modify vegetables to taste and to match your pantry.

IF YOU ARE PACKING THIS FOR THE NEXT DAY, KEEP THE DRESSING SEPARATE! The next day the dressing had soaked into the leftover pasta and made it gummy. Just dress the amount of salad you intend to eat at the time…

Chili-Garlic Roasted Broccoli Recipe
Ingredients
broccoli tops, equiv. to about one lg broccoli.
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil or so.
5 to 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
dash of chili powder
1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (I used Trader Joe’s)
Directions
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, chili powder and grill
seasoning in the bottom of a large bowl and add the broccoli spears.
Toss to coat broccoli evenly then transfer to a large nonstick
baking sheet. Roast the broccoli until ends are crisp and brown and
stalks are tender, 15-17 minutes.
Notes
I made this tonight with a baked potato(washed, dried, pricked and
baked in the oven on a bed of kosher salt), and my favorite southern
fried tofu recipe. (That recipe should be already in the recipes
file).. It was really satisfying. And I was just thinking that one
way to expand what we can eat is by expanding how we prepare what we
eat… Roasted broccoli is very different (to me) than steamed or
sauteed… So, give it a try. I thought it was delicious!

I’ve also enjoyed this recipe with half organic cauliflower florets. You can tone down or up the chili powder to taste.


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6 Responses to “The Quick and Easy Vegetarian Spa Meal… at home”

  1. Hi sea:
    Looks like you have some great recipes here!

    I’d love to try the soba salad, but it’s impossible to find soba with no wheat in it here. However I’ve been beating the rainy season heat with lots of salads with a base of sweet shredded cabbage,lettuce and other veggies, like tomatoes, peppers, shredded carrots and topping it with fresh, not fried tofu, though that looks good too. If you want to try it you get the silky tofu and slice it in thinish squares in the package before putting it on top of the salad. Shiso salad dressing or good old oil-and-vinegar-with-herbs is topping.

    I’m looking forward to reading over your site and trying more of the recipes. I do have some gluten-free pasta on order from the states and when it get here I’ll be making pasta salads.:)

  2. Welcome Vegetablej,
    It is so nice to see new visitors, and not more spam monsters! Lol. You’re in Japan, right? I’m not sure where you are, but I was able to find (white) rice pasta in the yuppie “international” section of gourmet grocery stores in Japan that was naturally gluten free. (I was in Chiba City, near Tokyo though) Although I used soba, any pasta would work for this recipe. I buy a Japanese brand that I also found in Japan- It is sold all over Japan, in the larger grocery stores. Here’s an url with an image:
    http://store.yahoo.co.jp/k3onlineshop/m-011.html
    The only catch is that it is made from, 100% soba flour with no wheat but says that there are wheat products made in the same factory. However, I am pretty sensitive and didn’t react to it. They also sell it, if I remember correctly, at the Makuhari Costco. And I also bought GF pasta from Tengu Foods, although it’s a bit pricey.
    You could also try wild rice, or even dry-ish brown rice, or just veggies. Although I’m sure my Japanese friends would cry to hear me say this, I am just not that wild about plain, cold tofu…but it can be yummy seasoned or grilled. I hope there are some recipes here that will work for you, wherever you are. :) Best wishes and happy GF vegetable eating!
    -Sea

  3. Thanks so much for the picture of the soba! I will track it down and if I can find it will be in summer recipe heaven; maybe I’ll feature it on the website, too.

    I’ve tried Tengu pasta but lately all they seem to have is a rather vile, to me, high-protein pasta made from soy. I’ve asked them to order Tinkyada but had no luck.

    I’ll try to find the rice pasta the next time I’m in a big city, but since I’m in Shikoku and don’t go up that often maybe FBC will be quicker.

    Tofu is only as good as the brand. I get organic silky and it’s creamy and cold with no off flavour, rather like a topping of yoghurt. Saying that makes me think that maybe I could flavour it with fresh fruit and make a nice yoghurt substitute or even ice cream.

    Also try it topped with a goma dressing (if you like sesame). That un-blands it pretty quick.

    Thanks again! :)

  4. [...] I made French Socca, a French Chickpea Crepe Flatbread the other night for dinner, and topped it with a caramelized onion, artichoke heart, tomato, and calamata olive mixture. It was delicious, but I ended up with half of a can of artichoke hearts left over. I wasn’t sure what to do with them until I caught sight of the thriving basil plant on my patio. How about an artichoke heart, basil pesto using something other than pine nuts… something like… pecans? And so a recipe was born. I wanted something light and summery, with less calories than the typical pesto, so cutting out the cheese and limiting the oil made sense. I used two tablespoons of sweet, fruity, locally produced olive oil and somehow that was just enough. Even DH, who isn’t ordinarily a huge fan of pesto, enjoyed this light, summery dish. I paired it with some chilled Celestial Seasonings Tea, A variation onSouthern Fried Tofu, and leftover chilled Roasted Chili Garlic Broccoli. To me, nothing says summer like the sweet, piquant flavor of basil pesto. It would be perfect paired with a classic fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil leaf salad. If you thought pesto was off limits due to dairy intolerance or calorie concerns, think again! Pesto can be as light and allergen friendly as you like. [...]

  5. I can’t add your post to Digg. How I do this?

  6. [...] In Japan and Korea, Buckwheat is used in noodles respectively called soba and memil guksu. Unfortunately, while I can’t speak for Korean buckwheat noodles, almost all Japanese soba noodles also contain wheat. Luckily, while I was living in Japan I was able to find an exception: a 100% soba flour noodle, although it did contain a warning in Japanese that it is produced in a factory that also works with wheat products. Luckily, I never seemed bothered by it, and I was immensely happy to be able to experiment with at least one traditional Japanese ingredient. One of my most recent experiments with soba noodles was a spa salad, but I also enjoy using them in fox noodle soup, a dish that contains fried tofu and soba noodles in a rich, salty broth. Interestingly, while gluten intolerance is rare in Japan, serious soba allergy seems about as common as peanut allergies are in the states. I worked with several Japanese teachers who had a serious, life threatening allergy to buckwheat. Luckily I think this kind of allergy is far less common in western populations. [...]

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