This recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Heart of the Plate by Mollie Katzen. I have really enjoyed every recipe that I’ve made from that book so far. It’s vegetarian (Katzen was the author of the original Moosewood Cookbook) and not rooted in any particular flavor profile–the recipes really are a collection of global flavors. This does mean that sometimes the ingredients are less common, but for the most part they can be found at a regular grocery store. This particular dish is a mash up of traditional sesame-based stir-fry sauces and the magic that is lemon and asparagus. It seems like it might not work, but it really, really does. If you are hesitant about using the lemon zest and juice in the marinade, I would say to just try it. For the most part you didn’t notice, but every so often you’d get a bit with some zest in it and all of the sudden the asparagus bloomed as well.
As usual, I changed a few things around with the recipe — I used soba noodles instead of linguine, as I had just made the Lemony Greek Pasta Salad and wasn’t eager for more white pasta. I also think that soba or udon noodles work so much better in noodle stir-fries, to be honest. They carry and add flavor. I don’t even know where you would buy 8 oz of tofu — all my stores sell it in 12 oz containers. Let me tell you about what would happen to 4 oz of tofu just hanging out in the fridge…science. That’s what. Anyway, I didn’t want to waste any tofu so just used the whole box. I also buy mushrooms by the box, not by each, so just went ahead and used a full pound. I adjusted the marinade to some extent, although I didn’t up the sugar quantity because I’m really trying to NOT eat as much sugar or the toasted sesame oil because I actually ran out! My pantry challenge is starting to have consequences…
Stir-Fried Noodles with Asparagus, Mushrooms, Tofu and Cashews
Serves 4 or 5 (generously), Vegan
- 1 c. cashews, lightly toasted and salted
- 8 scallions, minced, white and green parts separated
- 1.5 T. minced or crushed garlic
- 2 T, grated fresh ginger (heaping)
- 3 T. soy sauce
- 1 t. grated lemon zest
- 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice (from one lemon)
- 2 T. toasted sesame oil
- 4.5 T. water
- 3 T. brown sugar
- 1 t. salt
- 12 oz container of tofu, cut into 1/2 inch dice
- 1 lb mushrooms, sliced
- 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 6 – 8 oz soba noodles OR 8 oz linguine
- 2 T. canola oil
- Crushed red pepper
- Place the cashews in a food processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. Set aside.
- Place the tofu and mushrooms in a 9X13 pan. In a small bowl, stir together the scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, lemon zest, lemon juice, water, sesame oil and brown sugar. Pour over tofu and mushrooms, stir gently to ensure all sides are coated. Marinate for at least 15 minutes (and up to 2 hours). Stir occasionally.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Cook noodles according to package directions. When finished, rinse under water and then allow to drain thoroughly. Set aside.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat for about a minute, then add the canola oil and swirl to coat the pan. Turn up the heat to medium-high, toss in the asparagus and 1/4 t. of salt. Stir-fry until the asparagus is just tender, 5 – 7 minutes. Add the drained noodles and another 1/4 t. salt, mixing as best you can with tongs. Stir-fry over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until noodles and asparagus entwine.
- Pour in the entire panful of marinade, tofu, and mushrooms. Turn to heat to high and stir-fry another 3 minutes, tossing in the ground cashews and a light touch of red pepper as you go. When the sauce and the cashews are well distributed and everything is heated through, taste and add salt as necessary.
- Serve immediately, topped with a scattering of the scallion greens.
This can get a little smoky, so be aware if you have a sensitive smoke detector. I didn’t add any additional salt at the end, but I also didn’t measure the salt when I added it with the asparagus and the linguine, so YMMV.
I buy soba noodles at an Asian grocery near my home. They are sold in a 3lb package, and inside there are a lot of little bundles that weigh between 3 and 3.5 oz each. I used two bundles. The original recipe calls for a half pound of linguine or similar noodles.
The tofu doesn’t get crispy using this method. I don’t mind that at all, but if you are unsure of tofu because of the texture, this may not be the recipe for you. The flavor because of the marinade and then the stir-fry is incredible, though.
I hope you try it out if this sounds interesting. If you do, let me know — we really, really loved it and will make it again for sure.