An easy week night meal made once again with whatever I had in my fridge. Tofu, spinach, cherry tomatoes, mushroom, onions and udon noodles! What are udon noodles you ask? They are the big thick Japanese noodles made with wheat, they are soft and chewy and are usually bought fresh from the store. I love cooking with udon noodles, it’s a fun alternative to rice or vermicelli noodles! I bought mine at our Asian supermarket -T&T but I have also seen that at loblaws, PC brand!
I paired this meal with tofu which was so tasty! Tofu is easily tasty when it’s marinated and crispy you can’t go wrong. I always go for the firm tofu, and if it’s soaking in water you will want to try a “Tofu Press” technique to drain out the water. They have tools for this, but otherwise if you just wrap it in paper towel, then a dish towel and set something heavy on it for about an hour, that’ll do the trick! This will help make the tofu crispier and firmer!
We are now into December and I guess I’ve noticed a vegetarian trend in my recipes this year. This started with my trip to India in January where we didn’t eat a lot of meat because there was just so much variety of foods that really didn’t need it. Also at times it could be a little sketchy to eat meat at certain places. Along with having a newly vegetarian friend this year, I started to experiment with more vegetarian foods that I just found so simple to make. It also helps reduce dishes, which I am all about, since you don’t require 2 cutting boards and knives!
Overall I have really enjoyed experimenting and challenging myself with meatless recipes this year and really encourage everyone to try them too, because they aren’t just for vegetarians. I still eat meat, but I am finding now it’s become more of a treat when I do have it. It’s like eating chocolate or candy, it’s really better in smaller doses and it’s not necessary everyday. Just some food for thought 😉
Serves 3 hardy bowls
2 single packages of udon noodles
About 2 cups of firm tofu chopped into squares
1 bunch of spinach
1 bunch of mushrooms
1 yellow onion
1 cup of cherry tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp sesame oil
salt and pepper
For the marinade/sauce
1 clove garlic
1 piece of ginger
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
Cut your pressed Tofu into bite size squares and place into a bowl. Chop the ginger and garlic very fine, then add all the marinade ingredients into the bowl with the Tofu. Gently toss around and let sit while you make the rest of the meal. Longer it sits the better, but if you are short on time, I only had mine marinating about 15-20 minutes and it was perfect.
Bring a medium size pot of water to a boil for the noodles.
Chop your mushrooms, onions, cut your cherry tomatoes in half and if you have the big spinach chop it as well, otherwise if it’s baby spinach it’s probably fine as is.
Add the noodles to the pot of boiling water.
I used a cast iron pan to make the tofu extra crispy and delicious, but a wok will do as well. Bring the pan to medium high heat than add the sesame oil. I stir fried all the veggies first, than did the tofu after separately. Once the pan is hot add the onions, garlic and mushrooms. Whenever I add mushrooms to a pan, I always salt them immediately after, this helps bring out the juices and makes the mushrooms a nice consistency.
Once the onions are soft add the tomatoes. By this time the noodles should be done, they don’t take too long just follow what the package says. Drain them, then add them back to the pot. Add the spinach to the onions, mushroom, tomato pan just until slightly wilted. Then transfer everything to the noodle pot and cover, and simmer.
Add more oil to the cast iron pan for the tofu. Once sizzling hot add the tofu, cooking 8-10 minutes and flipping each side. I know this may seem like a daunting task, but if you can at least get 2 of the 6 sides crunchy, then you can more randomly move them around and it’s not the end of the world. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds, and once they look brown and delicious you are done!