Some Days You Need Comfort Food
Sometimes the World is a hard place. There’s nothing like a trying day to send me to the refuge of my kitchen, looking for something that will make me feel better. And if you ask me, comfort food is a bowl of noodles with ever so comforting peanut butter all over them.
Slightly chewy, slippery noodles, studded with tender tofu and barely cooked vegetables become ever so easy to eat with a gloss of peanut sauce. Unlike everything else that happened in your day, you kind of can’t mess this sauce up, just stir the peanut butter sauce in a cup. It’s dependable, it has your back.
All you need to do when you walk in that door is put on a pot of water for the noodles and crank up the oven for the tofu. Then go change into your relaxing clothes while everything gets warmed up. If you are really crunched for time, you can always use a can of mock duck, or even some pre-baked tofu. But making it yourself is very low labor, it just takes a while in the oven.
I find that baking tofu instead of frying it is so much easier, uses less oil, and doesn’t lead to an oil spattered stove top the way that frying does. I am hooked on Wildwood extra firm or sprouted tofu, because they are so firm that you couldn’t press any water out of them if you wanted to. Just blot, cube, toss with oil and seasoning, and into the oven. As long as the oven is on, roast the broccoli to give it a little char and intensify the flavor.
While the tofu and broccoli roast, you can blanch the radishes and carrots, and stir up the simple sauce. Peanut butter always makes me feel happy, like I’m a kid again, curled up with a spoonful of peanut butter and a good book. I’m sure that the definition of comfort food is unique to every individual, and set in childhood. That may be so, but noodles have to be high on everyone’s list.
Peanut butter is such a staple in my kitchen, I can hardly go a week without making a new batch in the Vitamix. I keep roasted unsalted peanuts in the freezer so I can stay ahead of my peanut butter needs. It’s an inexpensive source of protein, fiber, and good fats, and can go savory or sweet without missing a beat.
Of course I’m all over a whole wheat noodle, too, to get the goodness of whole grains on the plate in minutes. Flat linguine and fettucine are easy to find in whole wheat or even GF whole grain varieties, and they do a pretty good stand-in for an Asian udon or other wide noodle.
So go ahead, comfort yourself with noodles. These will make you feel good from the inside out.
Whole Wheat Peanut Noodles with Turmeric Tofu
- 8 ounces extra firm tofu cubed
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric
- dark sesame oil
- 1 bunch broccoli cut in florets
- 1/4 large black radish julienned
- 1 large carrot julienned
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup brewed tea
- 2 tablespoons honey or sugar
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
- 3/4 cup toasted peanuts chopped
- 12 ounces whole wheat fettucine
- Sriracha sauce
- Boil a large pot of water for cooking the vegetables and noodles. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Spread a drizzle of sesame oil on a sheet pan and place the tofu on it, sprinkle with turmeric and tamari and toss to coat. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway. Spread the broccoli on a pan and drizzle with sesame oil, toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, until browned.
- In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, green tea or water, red pepper and fresh ginger. Whisk until smooth.
- Blanch the remaining vegetables in the boiling water: drop in the carrots and radish for one minute, then scoop out with a slotted spoon or small strainer and let cool. Cook the pasta in the same water according to package directions, about 9 minutes. drain the pasta, shaking it to drain well.
- In the pasta pot, place the noodles and drizzle the peanut sauce over them. Toss to coat. Serve topped with tofu, broccoli, and carrots and radish. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro. Drizzle Sriracha on the carrots and radish.