Lunch is no joke around our office. There are those that brown bag it every day. Those that dine daily with The Chef and those that partake in the Buffeteria lunch special. And then there is Lunch Club.
Designed to ease the stress of lunch and encourage weekday home cooking, each member brings lunch for the other members on a specified day of the week. Fridays are free reign. I’ve participated in Lunch Club in the past, but the stress of not planning my own meals and not sticking to my particular weekday eating rules meant that I didn’t last long as a member.
A few weeks ago another colleague who is also trying to eat as healthfully as possible proposed an Alternative Lunch Club. Same deal, only there were a few ground rules. Lunches had to be mainly plant-based, vegetarian, gluten free — think Gwyneth Paltrow’s version of Lunch Club. And you had to tell the other person what you were planning to make the week before; I was game.
For Thursday’s lunch I had planned to make kale and Brussels sprouts salad tossed with soba noodles, my favourite recipe from Vegetable Literacy. But when Wednesday evening rolled around and it was time to make lunch I was craving something spicy. Heidi Swanson’s otsu, another favourite around here, came to mind. I had a little sprouted tofu left over in the fridge and so this mash-up was born.
Teeming with greens and high in protein this was a pretty perfect lunch. Using gluten free noodles ensured there would be no mid-afternoon carb crash to keep us going through the afternoon. I’m not gluten free by any means, but these days I prefer gluten free noodles to avoid the bloat that comes with regular pasta. My grocery store was out of buckwheat noodles so I tried out a millet brown rice blend instead. The noodles were good but missing the sturdy chew of buckwheat which meant they were a little mushy next to the raw greens. I topped everything with my new favourite garnish, Gomashio, but a few toasted sesame seeds would do just the trick!
Spicy Noodle Bowl with Greens and Tofu
For the salad
1 big bunch of lacinato kale (aka black kale or dinosaur kale), shredded
4 Brussels Sprouts, shredded
2 bunches of baby bok choy, shredded
1 teaspoon sesame oil
8 oz buckwheat soba noodles (or whatever you want)
For the dressing
Zest of 1 lemon
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon raw honey
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh squeezed, duh)
1/4 cup brown-rice vinegar
1/3 cup tamari
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
7 or 8 oz of extra firm, sprouted tofu
3 green onions, sliced white and light green parts only
Gomashio or toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Place all your greens in a big bowl and dress with 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and a pinch of salt. Massage with your hands until all of the greens are shiny and glistening (that’s my favourite part of this recipe). Set aside.
Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well and rinse with cold water, draining again. Once the noodles have been drained add to greens mixture.
Meanwhile whiz lemon zest and juice, ginger, honey, cayenne, sea salt, brown rice vinegar, tamari, olive oil and sesame oil in a food processor or blender. Add about 3/4 of the dressing to the greens and noodle mixture. Mix well and let is sit while you make the tofu.
Heat pan over medium. Slice tofu in to thin slabs and then place in a hot pan with no oil or water. Fry until golden, about 3 minutes, and then toss and fry until golden on the other side.
Pile greens and noodles in to your favourite bowl; top with Gomashio, green onions and tofu.