Quick Weeknight Meal: Noodle Bowl
Post by Paula Jahn, Co-owner and Dietitian at Nourish Northwest
Pasta has always been my quick default weeknight meal. It serves as an excellent base for fridge clean-out meals, too. I usually start with 100% whole wheat fusilli or penne pasta and add the remains of the vegetable crisper to make a simple sauce. Sometimes I add meat, sometimes not. For a gluten free version, I used to keep the same types of pasta in brown rice form. With recent reports of possible contamination of arsenic in rice and rice products, I decided to reduce my and my family’s exposure by diversifying my noodles. I’ve tried three main types of rice- and gluten-free noodles: quinoa/corn based, 100% buckwheat soba noodles, and mung bean. Buckwheat soba comes out ahead in terms of both taste and nutrition. They are nutty, hold their shape and chewiness after cooking, and are higher in iron, calcium and zinc compared to regular whole wheat noodles.
Soba noodle salads are versatile but can be somewhat involved with many ingredients. They are popular served cold with a soy sauce based dressing and lots of crunchy vegetables. The cold salad noodles are great for lunch, but fore dinner, I usually want something warm. It just feels more satisfying than a cold noodle salad.
The following recipe is quick, simple, nutritionally balanced and not boring. I love the “pesto” with the coconut milk. I only added two vegetables to keep it really fast, and only one required chopping. Yeah for frozen peas!
Coconut Soba Noodles
(recipe adapted from Bev Cooks)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, rough outer leaf pulled away, and the remaining stalk finely sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (seeds and ribbing removed for less heat)
1/2 cup cilantro or flat parsley leaves, plus extra for garnish
2 Tbs. lime juice
1 pinch coarse salt
1 Tbs. coconut oil
1 (15 oz) can coconut milk (you can use light if you prefer)
3 bundles soba noodles
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into small strips
1 cup frozen peas
black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
In a small food processor, combine the garlic through the pinch of salt. Blitz until the mixture is finely minced.
Heat the coconut oil in a medium pot over medium-high. Add the pesto mixture and bloom in the oil for a minute.
Whisk in a little of the coconut milk. Then pour the rest in and whisk until fully combined.
In the meantime, cook the soba noodles in boiling water until they reach al dente, about 6 minutes.
Drain the water and transfer the noodles to the coconut milk. Add the red bell pepper and peas. Toss to heat everything through, a minute or so.
Serve garnished with cilantro and black sesame seeds.