An Asian-inspired vegetable noodle salad with tofu. Vegan, gluten-free, and super quick and easy, this makes a great light lunch.
During the week my husband and I eat in a very routine way. If you’re a regular reader, you already know that, and you might even know that because today is Monday I’m going to be eating zucchini noodles with tofu for lunch, and a big salad for dinner.
It has occurred to me that although I post my projected meal plan each week, that’s not often what I share with you here. Although the recipes I make and photograph for the blog each weekend often become at least part of my packed lunches, those aren’t always representative of my day-to-day meals.
Kathryn wrote recently about choosing to post what we want to post rather than what we feel like we *should* be posting because it’s a particular season or food holiday, and I know that post resonated with a lot of us. I’ve complained lately about being in a lunch rut, but it’s only just occurred to me that perhaps it’s less of a lunch rut and more of a blog rut.
It’s a bit paralyzing, though, as were I to post the food I really eat for dinner each night this blog would be mostly the same salad eaten every Monday and Wednesday, a Thursday night omelet, and whatever leftovers we eat for dinner on Tuesdays, and that would be a pretty boring blog.
It is, however, not such a boring way to eat. Although I found it a bit monotonous in the early months of living with Paul (for this was his routine even before I came into the picture) it’s now so deeply engrained in me I don’t know what to do without it. I love that, other than Fridays, there’s no night we come home from work and don’t already know what we’re eating. I love that, since it’s a routine, whoever gets home from work first (which is usually, but not always, Paul) just gets down to business making dinner. And I love that, since our meals are the same week after week, so is our grocery list, and that chore also becomes simplified accordingly.
Although I will continue to challenge myself to come up with new and interesting, quick and easy, packable and freezable healthy meals for y’all, and although those things will inevitably end up in my lunch boxes at least 3 days a week, I thought that maybe, just maybe, there’s someone out there who would enjoy the routine as much as I do. And so, from time to time I thought I’d share those meals with you. Because, the big salad does change seasonally, the omelet (which is actually a frittata) is a fine dinner, and these zucchini noodles are pretty much the bee’s knees.
If you’re looking for a nice light lunch that takes under 5 minutes to throw together, this is it. Zucchini and carrots are spiralized into noodles. Tofu is cubed up. Herbs and sesame seeds are sprinkled. And a dressing is drizzled. That’s it.
There is, of course, the pesky issue of needing a sprializer, something which I have invested in because, really, what blogger hasn’t? But there are other ways. A mandoline with a julienne blade, a julienne peeler, or a sharp knife and a steady hand all work equally well. The ‘noodles’ might not be quite as beautiful, but who cares about that?
I make this vegetable noodle salad on a Sunday afternoon and eat it for lunch on Monday and Wednesday. Pack it undressed, and when I’m ready to eat I drizzle it with a little soy sauce and a whisper of toasted sesame oil. My office has a good selection of condiments on offer so I don’t bother packing those, but a tiny jar of dressing tucked alongside the noodles will do the job just fine.
Zucchini is a starchy summer squash that not only provides a good amount of dietary fiber (2.5 grams per cup), but it also provides polysaccharide fibers like pectin that have special benefits for blood sugar regulation. Zucchini is a very strong source of key antioxidant nutrients, including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Since the skin of this food is particularly antioxidant-rich, it’s worth leaving the skin intact. The fat in zucchini’s edible seeds includes omega-3s (alpha-linolenic acid), making it a heart healthy choice. Zucchini is a very good source of vitamin C, magnesium, dietary fiber, phosphorus, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin K. Additionally, it has a notable amount of vitamin B1, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, and protein.
- 1 large zucchini, rinsed
- 1 large carrot, peeled
- 1 x 250g block of firm tofu
- 1 green onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 tsp black and white sesame seeds
- light soy sauce (I prefer Bragg's liquid aminos)
- toasted sesame oil
- Using a spiralizer or julienne peeler, turn the zucchini and carrot into thin vegetable noodles. Toss the noodles to mix them up, then distribute evenly amongst two bowls or lunch boxes.
- Slice the tofu into small cubes, and scatter across the noodles in each bowl.
- Top with slices of green onions, cilantro, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
- If serving immediately, drizzle with a bit of soy sauce and very small amount of toasted sesame oil.
- If packing for lunch, reserve the dressing until it's time to eat.