just recently, i posted my longtime favorite recipe for fresh vegetable spring rolls. and i do love them. also? they’re just a wee bit of a pain to make, at least by 6-pm-on-thursday-night standards.
which is a shame, because i do so love the flavors together. and the crunch! oh, the crunch. perhaps not surprisingly then, i frequently find myself combining all of the flavors and textures (crunch!) in a big salad-y noodle bowl and happily munching away with a fork, rather than a spring roll wrapper.
because fresh vegetable spring roll noodle bowls that you get to eat on a weeknight are better than fresh vegetable spring rolls that you skip making because they just seem like too much effort, no?
since i’m billing this noodle bowl recipe as a quasi-convenience meal, i would be remiss if i didn’t acknowledge that all of these ingredients might not already be in your fridge/usual local grocery store. i hope they are, because they are all so tasty and most of the more difficult to find ingredients keep nearly indefinitely, but if you want more details on where to find these ingredients, look back at the fresh vegetable spring rolls where i did a full play-by-play of each ingredient.
that said, once you have everything in the fridge, these noodle bowls are ripe for prepping on sunday and being enjoyed for lunch (or dinner) over the course of the week. the veggies i suggest below are all pretty hardy and the thai basil or mint just may survive the week, if you cut it fresh each day (it will definitely turn black if you cut it in advance). and the bowls are delicious either at room temperature or cold, which is convenient.
so, if you’re an aspiring meal-prepper like me (or an actual meal-prepper, in which case, you get a gold star and a look of bewilderment mixed with admiration from me), this recipe is a great one to add to your mix of recipes that you either do or do not prep in advance. i won’t tell either way…
ps – if you’re looking for another asian-inspired salad with ALL the crunch, check out asian-inspired brussels sprouts salad.
- 4 tablespoons hoisin sauce (check labels if you need gluten free)
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter
- 90 g. (1/3 cup) peanut butter
- 30 g. (2 tablespoons) hoisin sauce (check labels if you need gluten free)
- 6 g. (1 tablespoon) low sodium soy sauce (tamari or coconut aminos for gluten free)
- 7 g. (1 teaspoon) chili-garlic paste (i added a second teaspoon after tasting the sauce with one teaspoon)
- 12 g. (1 tablespoon) dark sesame oil
- juice of one lime (~38 g.)
- 1 small clove of garlic, grated on a fine mesh grater or minced into a paste
- 56 g. (¼ cup) water
- 425 g. (15 oz.) extra firm tofu (or your favorite protein)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil or cooking spray
- 100 g. (3 ½ oz.) dried vermicelli rice noodles
- 300 g. (10 ½ oz.) red cabbage, thinly sliced and then roughly chopped into bite sized lengths
- 75 g. (2 5/8 oz.) fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and dried
- 75 g. (2 5/8 oz.) shredded carrots, dried if very wet
- small bunch of fresh thai basil, mint, or cilantro, rinsed, dried and cut into thin ribbons
- sweet chili sauce, to serve
- combine hoisin sauce and peanut butter in a ratio of roughly 2 parts hoisin to 1 part peanut butter. taste and adjust if desired. if the sauce is really thick (this will likely be the case if you use thick peanut butter), add 1 teaspoon of water at a time and mix in well until the sauce is just thin enough to pour smoothly.
- combine everything in a medium bowl. whisk until everything is well combined, then taste and adjust as desired. if the sauce is really thick (unlikely but may be the case if you use thick peanut butter), add 1 teaspoon of water at a time and mix in well until the sauce is just thin enough to pour smoothly.
- slice the tofu in half from long edge to long edge so that you have 2 flat planks, like oversized decks of cards. to press out excess water: place a few layers of paper towel on a large plate or cutting board, spread the tofu out in a single layer, put a few more layers of paper towel, then weigh the tofu down with a heavy pan or a cutting board with a few cans on top for 20 minutes.
- preheat the oven to 400° F. slice the tofu into 1/2” (1.25 cm) cubes. toss tofu with teaspoon of olive oil or spray baking sheet before adding tofu. arrange the tofu in a single layer on the baking sheet. if you didn’t oil the tofu, spray the tops of the tofu. bake for 15 – 20 minutes, flipping pieces over halfway through, so that tofu gets lightly golden brown and a little bit drier.
- put the vermicelli in a large, heat safe bowl or pot. pour boiling water over the noodles (use plenty – cover them by an inch or so) and use a fork to stir the noodles and prevent them from clumping. soak them until they are just tender; mine took about 3 minutes. test them frequently so they don’t overcook and get mushy. once the noodles are tender, drain and rinse them with cold water to stop them from cooking further and to rinse the starch off so they don’t stick together too much.
- in a large bowl, combine the cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, tofu, and rice noodles (if you’re long noodle challenged like me, you may want to cut the noodles once or twice with clean, sharp scissors before you add them to the bowl). pour your sauce of choice over the bowl and toss well. sprinkle thai basil/mint over the top. serve immediately, passing sweet chili sauce at the table. these noodle bowls are delicious at room temperature or cold.
tracking down ingredients/substitutions please see the fresh vegetable spring rolls post for ingredient sources and substitutions.
customization as always (or at least usually), feel free to adjust the ratios/ingredients to suit your tastes. if you want to cook some chicken or shrimp, chop ‘em up, and toss them in, go for it!
make ahead these noodle bowls are an excellent candidate for meal prepping. get all of the ingredients, including the sauce, ready, then store them separately. an assembled noodle bowl will happily last from when you assemble it before work in the morning to lunch time that day. i can’t vouch for a bowl assembled on sunday, intended for consumption on friday (if you’re daring, let us know how it goes!).
leftover ingredients besides the obvious, a bunch of the ingredients also turn up in asian style salmon tacos and asian salmon burgers.
these noodle bowls are adapted from my fresh vegetable spring rolls and basic sauce, which are adapted from a recipe that came from a friend of friends. the extra credit sauce is adapted from a peanut sauce recipe that was posted on chow.com back in 2008 and which is no longer available online – paper copies of recipes for the win!
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