simply soba

When it comes to food, I am really quite easily satisfied.  I love anything healthy, seasonal, and simple. I am enticed by brown grains flecked with hues of green. The bold tang of garlic frequently meets up with gently wilted leaves in bowls on my table. And unlike my last post, this one will be purely service-oriented, hopefully generating nothing but raving comments from all ye who enter its savory embrace.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but is not garlic the most universally seasonal of the aromatic family? Kale too is a cold-weather green, with leathery hardiness unrivalled among greenery. Think of it as the biker of cabbage family. It almost got me wanting to listen to G n’ R while I cooked. Almost.

This dish is responsible for the 2 pound package of Japanese Soba Noodles waiting patiently in my cupboard. They are the buckwheat darlings of the glorious noodle kingdom —  slippery-soft, done in 3 minutes, and can be tossed with just about any legume, vegetable, spice or sauce. Try them in stir-fries or as a carrier for your next back-of-the-fridge mash-up. Eating buckwheat shouldn’t really feel as glorious as this, but it can. Oh yes, it can.

And thanks to the hubby, my new favorite garlic companion makes six cloves of garlic a breeze. Yep, six cloves. Instant garlic love. No more of this sticky ridiculousness.  If you’re lucky enough to find one, do yourself a favor

There’s nothing to this dish. Set some tofu to press in the fridge before you go out in the morning.  Cook up some noodles. Bread the tofu slabs and bake or fry.  Mix up the noodles and presto! You’ve got a robust,  hard-core winter dinner companion.

When Axel’s busy, this will more than do.

Soba Noodles with Kale and Garlic

Serves 4-6

8 oz dried soba noodles

12 ounces extra firm organic tofu, pressed under a heavy plate and then cut into either 4 or 6 rectangular slabs

3/4 cup very fine, dry bread crumbs, or if you’ve got them, panko crumbs (available in Asian isle)

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

pinch of salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup grapeseed oil for frying (grapeseed has a higher smoke point and has a neutral taste)

1 T olive oil

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

6 cloves garlic, minced

4 big handfuls of chard, spinach or kale – stems removed and cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup Parmesan, freshly grated for topping

optional: a few baby radishes, sliced thin for topping

  1. Boil a pot of water and cook the soba noodles according to the package directions, or until just tender. Drain, rinse well under cool water, and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, bread the tofu: combine the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and salt in a shallow plate. Dip each slab of tofu into the beaten egg, and then press into the bread crumb mixture, coating evenly on all sides. Place tofu pieces on a plate until they are all done. Then, either bake at 375 degrees on a lined baking sheet or fry in grapeseed oil until both sides are golden, flipping once to get both sides nice and browned.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, and when it has warmed, add the garlic. Cook for a few seconds. Stir in the green onions and the kale and cook until the kale wilts and begins to turn bright green. Stir in the soba noodles and remove from heat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and sliced radishes, and top each portion with a crispy tofu slice.

Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

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