Udon Noodle Soup

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For my birthday a few months ago, I went out to dinner with my sister, brother, and his girlfriend to our favorite restaurant in Boston – Symphony Sushi (or “Symph Sush”, as we call it). While I was waiting for them to arrive (I’m always early, they’re generally late) I noticed a couple girls sitting next to me eating an enormous bowl of soup. It was full of bright colored vegetables, plump udon noodles, and came with a side of veggie tempura that they were dipping in the broth. Although I typically eat sushi and only sushi at Symph, it was my birthday so I decided to branch out. I scoured the menu to see if I could find the soup from the table next door and try it for myself.

Found it, ordered it, and fell in love. I couldn’t believe I had been going to Symph Sush for years and never tried this amazing soup. I ordered it once a week for three weeks after that meal because I couldn’t get enough. Then, of course, I decided to recreate it.

You all seem to enjoy my take-out inspired recipes, so here’s another! This udon noodle soup can be made with all sorts of vegetables. Here I stuck with just greens, but you could add radishes, carrots, baby corn – whatever you like. I really wanted to make this with baby bok choy (and will next time) but the selection in the grocery store was wilted and the kale was a great substitute.

Warning: Udon noodles are not that healthy, but they are delicious! The dark green veggies in this soup definitely counteract the carb heavy udon noodles. For a lighter version, replace the udon with soba or rice noodles. You can also add any type of protein or tempura to this to up the calories and make it a more substantial meal – chicken, beef, or shrimp would be great.

Udon Noodle Soup

Drain 1 package extra firm tofu on paper towels. In a large pot, sauté 2 medium sliced zucchini in ½ tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. After 2 minutes, add 3 cups kale, stems removed and ripped into 2 inch pieces. Cook until the kale turns bright green, then add 1 cup green onions, diced into 1 inch pieces. Grate 2 cloves garlic into the pot and sauté for 5 more minutes.

Add 4 cups vegetable broth and 2 cups water to the pot. When warm (about 5 minutes) add 1 ½ teaspoons lemongrass paste, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon sriracha. Bring to a low boil and adjust seasonings to taste. Add 3 ounces extra firm tofu, diced into ½ inch pieces.

Prepare 2 servings of udon noodles according to package directions (microwave, if possible). Serve warm, allowing udon noodles to sit in the soup for a few minutes before eating.

Yield: 3 servings. Per Serving: $2.73, 235 calories, 5g fat, 45g carbs, 8g protein.

Loving Leftovers: Spring Rolls & Veggie Bowl

If you don’t plan ahead, cooking can take a lot of time out of your life. Although I love to cook, I only do it a few times a week. If I had all the time in the world, I would love to cook a meal from scratch every night – but that’s just not realistic between work, going to the gym, and having a decent social life. Instead, I plan ahead to make 2 or 3 different dishes in bulk and eat leftovers throughout the week.

The leftovers approach is fine by me – I have no aversion to leftovers and find it the easiest way to cook for myself without spending all of my free time in the kitchen. But I recognize that leftovers aren’t for everyone. Sometimes I can get a little bored of eating the same thing over and over.

My best advice is to reinvent your leftovers. Here I’ve prepared two dishes with almost all of the same ingredients except a few (very easy) additions. First, I made spring rolls with farro, tofu, vegetables and a peanut-mustard dipping sauce. Using a fried egg, I reinvented the dish into a veggie grain bowl using the filling from the spring rolls. You could take it a step further by adding a different protein, a new veggie, or your favorite grain to the bowl. This approach will save you a lot of time in the kitchen while also keeping your meals exciting every day.

Read more about my approach to leftovers in this post from September. How do you keep your leftovers fresh and exciting? Leave a comment with some inspiration for me and other readers!

What you need for both recipes:

  • 1 cup cooked farro
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts chopped and sautéed with ½ tablespoon soy sauce until wilted (I used the leftover Brussels sprouts centers from this recipe)
  • 1 head red cabbage, chopped and sautéed with 1 clove minced garlic and ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Farro & Tofu Spring Rolls with Peanut Mustard Dipping Sauce

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Drain a ½ block of extra firm tofu between paper towels for 20 minutes (best results if you put something heavy on top, like a large saucepan, to press the tofu). Meanwhile, prepare the ingredients above (you’ll use only half for this recipe, the rest for the grain bowl). Slice the tofu into ½ inch slices and season with salt and pepper. Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Cook tofu in pan for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Set on a paper towel to cool and cut into 1 inch strips.

Moisten 1 spring roll wrapper according to package directions. Lay on a wet paper towel on top of a cutting board. In the center of the wrapper, place the farro, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, tofu, and cilantro (about 1/3 cup total). Roll according to package directions. Repeat to make a total of 6 spring rolls.

Prepare the dipping sauce by whisking ½ tablespoon peanut oil, ½ tablespoon soy sauce, and ½ tablespoon whole grain mustard in a bowl. Store these in the fridge wrapped individually in plastic wrap (otherwise the wrappers will stick together and tear).

Yield: 3 servings. Serving size: 2 rolls. Per Serving: $2.88, 343 calories, 11g fat, 68g carbs, 16g protein.

 

Veggie Grain Bowl

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Top the leftover farro and veggies from the spring rolls with a sunny side up egg. Garnish with fresh cilantro and enjoy!

 

Yield: 2 servings. Per Serving: $3.01, 339 calories, 7.5g fat, 83g carbs, 18g protein.

Leftovers Salad

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I left yesterday for my family’s annual vacation on Cape Cod. Almost every summer that I can remember we’ve vacationed on the Cape, spending days on the beach and evenings enjoying each other’s company. Ice cream is always involved.

This year there are 9 of us – my dad, my brother and three sisters, significant others, and me. We have a lovely red house off of Main Street in Chatham within walking distance of the baseball field and our favorite candy store. We’ve already made a few delicious meals, so you can expect more vacation posts in the weeks ahead.

Before I leave for vacation (or any extended period of time, for that matter) I try to eat (or freeze) all of the food in my fridge. I desperately avoid wasting food, so when this salad came together perfectly with the leftovers in my fridge I couldn’t help but share.

I don’t have a perfect recipe for this one but you can probably get the idea from the picture. It’s a bed of mixed greens with half a tomato, a cucumber (fresh from my deck garden), shredded carrot, very thinly sliced jalapeno (also from the garden), chopped onion, fried tofu, and – my favorite salad accessory – farro. I dressed it with a drizzle of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper.