In the summer, I have extremely specific taste in food. At any given moment, I will watering myself so I don’t wilt whilst eating some form of salad, a bucket of blueberries, a glass of wine, chilled avocados with hot sauce and salt, gelato, fruit crumbles with ice cream, a big fat grilled portobello mushroom burger, watermelon and feta salad, or cold sesame noodles.
However nice all of these meals and snacks are, today is all about one of my absolute favourite summer dinners, the last but not least item on the list: cold sesame noodles. Oddly enough, practically to the date last year (June 20, 2014), I posted a recipe for Sesame Carrot Noodles with Grilled Asparagus on the blog. I’m not lying when I say cold sesame noodles are a favourite summer food that I’ll be eating at any given moment. Perennially, it would appear.
Let’s chat about Cold Sesame Noodles 2k15. Cold Sesame Noodles the Second (II). Cold Sesame Noodles 2.0. Cold Sesame Noodles Jr.
Allow me to explain why you should make this year’s newfangled noodle salad recipe: it’s easily transportable for road trips, picnics, and work lunches; drowns raw vegetables, slurpable noodles, and smoked tofu in an absurdly intense umami miso sesame dressing, allowing them to marinate and soak in every iota of flavour; from a textural standpoint, it’s something quite extraordinary; and the vegetables can be replaced with what’s available or appealing to you at the time. It also has smoked tofu, my drug of choice.
The time for this cold sesame noodle salad is all in the preparation. Arm yourself with a sharp knife, a julienne peeler or grater, and a little elbow grease. Not only will you put a crisp, cool, refreshing dinner on the table in about 30 minutes, you’ll get an incredible bicep workout to boot. Now, I realize I just wrote the word, “julienne,” but this isn’t some highfalutin pasta salad. You may even have the ingredients in your refrigerator right now, less the smoked tofu, but that’s easy to come by and you need to come by that if you haven’t already. Like I said above, smoked tofu is my drug of choice. I reach for it when I need a huge hit of meaty meatless protein (after all, I have to feed my hungry biceps from all that prep chopping).
If you require an introduction and this is your first time trying smoked tofu, boy, do you have some catching up to do (my first time eating it was only last summer, so I feel you, I do). Prepare to fall in love with an inanimate object, my friend.
Our “first time” together was the house-smoked tofu at Graze in Vancouver, followed by an Asian noodle soup at SoBo in Tofino. It was a lot like the scene from Eat Pray Love: “I’m having a relationship with my [tofu].”
Smoked tofu seems to be a west coast thing as I’ve seen some San Francisco-based blogs cook with it heavily, too. Saying this, it’s quite easy to find out east, even in my smaller town, so you really have no excuse to not meet up.
This salad’s additional ingredients are fairly straightforward and accessible in the everyday grocery store as well. Carrots? I think you have those. Cucumbers? Mhm. Tamari? Yes and if not, use soy sauce. Broccoli? 365. Brown rice noodles? You do, just ask where they are. Miso? Okay, so I had to go to my local health food store to get this one. Sugar, you’ve got, and if you don’t go borrow a bit from your neighbour. Ginger? If you don’t have fresh used dried. Garlic, well, if you don’t have fresh garlic in your local grocery store or kitchen, I’m not really sure what to say.
The flavours in this noodle salad are not delicate, so if you’re a sensible lady or gentleman, take heed: this dish is for diners that crave saucy, full-bodied flavour. It’s the kind of meal I reach for when I’m in a pinch. It gets my tastebuds to stand to attention. It’s a pantry supper that’s supplemented with fresh vegetables. Boil, chop, stir, toss, slurp, swoon.
Roll up your sleeves and give your fingers and wrist that classic hyperbolic stretch in front of your body before chopping, because it’s time to get summer officially going already. If you need me, my face will be planted in this bowl for the next two to three months.
- ½ pound brown rice spaghetti or whole grain spaghetti
- ½ head broccoli, cut into small florets, stalks julienned
- 1 (7 ounce, 210 gram), package smoked tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 2 medium carrots, julienned or grated
- 3 Persian (baby) cucumbers, julienned
- ½ cup shelled frozen edamame, defrosted
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons miso (brown rice or sweet white)
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil or other neutral-tasting oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Make the Salad: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook noodles according to package directions adding broccoli florets and stalks in last minute of cooking time. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain well. Add to a large bowl along with remaining salad ingredients.
- Make the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients until fully combined. Add to salad and toss to combine.
- To Serve: Salad can be served immediately or covered and chilled for 30 minutes to marinate (if you have time, do this). Leftovers will keep for up to 3 days.