I tend to add megaflavor to everything I cook, but in this dish I embrace the minimalist trend and really like the simplicity of green onions with spice, sesame, salt, and refreshing crunchy cucumber. It was inspired by something I ate a couple of years ago at Xiâ€™an Famous Foods in Brooklyn.
A friend claimed this menu item, known as A-1, was her favorite thing ever, which I mistook for hyperbole. But I was curious. Well, after ordering it and taking one bite, I was in love and certainly wasnâ€™t prepared for a long-distance relationship with this noodle dish so I made my own version of Cold Cucumberâ€“Chile Noodles.
Sesame Soba Noodles with Collard Greens and Tempeh Croutons
Author: Nava Atlas
Recipe type: Asian noodles
Cuisine: Vegan / Healthy
This Asian-flavored dish of soba noodles and calcium-rich collard greens is flavored with a triple dose of sesame (another great source of calcium): tahini, seeds, and oil.
⅓ cup tahini
¼ cup lime juice
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium natural soy sauce or tamari, or more if needed
2 tablespoons natural granulated sugar (cane, coconut, or date) or agave nectar
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium natural soy sauce or tamari
1 package (8 ounces) tempeh, any variety, cut into ½" dice
1 package (8 ounces) soba (buckwheat) noodles
10 to 12 collard green leaves
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 large red or yellow onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
¼ small head green cabbage, cut into long, narrow shreds
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into long, narrow strips
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, basil, or Thai basil leaves, or more as desired
1 tablespoon black or tan sesame seeds Red-pepper flakes or Sriracha sauce
To make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine the tahini, lime juice, soy sauce or tamari, and sugar or agave nectar.
To make the croutons: In a large or wide-bottomed skillet, heat the oil and soy sauce or tamari over medium heat. Add the tempeh and stir to coat. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the tempeh until most sides are golden brown. Remove the tempeh croutons to a plate.
To make the noodles: Cook the noodles according to package directions. When they're al dente, remove from the heat and drain.
Meanwhile, cut the stems from the collard leaves with kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Stack 6 or so halves of leaves at a time. Roll the leaves up tightly from one of the narrow ends, almost like a cigar shape, then thinly slice them. Let them unroll to create ribbons of collard greens. Give them a good rinse in a colander.
In the same skillet used to make the croutons, heat the oil. Add the onion and cook over medium heat until softened and golden. Add the collard ribbons, cover, and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they wilt down a bit. Add the cabbage and bell pepper. Increase the heat and cook for 3 minutes, or just until the veggies are on the other side of raw. Remove the skillet from the heat.
Add the cooked noodles to the pan and use a large fork to mix the noodles thoroughly with the veggies. Pour the sauce over the mixture. Add the cilantro or basil and sesame seeds. Scatter the croutons on top. Season with the pepper flakes or Sriracha to taste. This can be served warm or at room temperature.
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