November 22, 2014

CSA Noodle Bowls

CSA noodle bowl

I'm not sure how to correctly name this soup, so I've gone with: a steaming hot noodle bowl topped with lots of roasted fall vegetables. The inspiration came from ramen, but I wanted a way to vegetarianize the dish, and make it feel healthy and filling. One day, I had a lot of spare CSA veggies lying around and I really wanted ramen. I decided to roast all the veggies, put together a simple broth, and add noodles. Since I only had somen noodles, I used those, and can report happy delicious results. However, the next time I used ramen noodle packets, tossed the flavorings, and cooked the noodles directly in the broth. Delicious. If you crave ramen veggie noodle bowls this will not disappoint.

This is a fun soup to assemble when you've got a bit of extra time. Since there a few steps to getting everything ready I've outlined as follows: first, I cut up a small pumpkin or other another type of squash, into wedges. The squash gets roasted in a half sheet jelly pan for 40-45 minutes. While the squash cooks, I prep two other soup ingredients that will get roasted in the oven while the squash cooks. The first is broccoli and mushrooms, and the second is marinaded tofu. Since both of these can cook in about 20-25 minutes, it makes oven multitasking easier. While everything bakes, the noodles and the broth can be prepped. Finally, I cut carrots into matchsticks for a garnish. If you've still got energy, roast the squash seeds.

When I made this dish, we had leftovers, and ate the soup again two days later. All the ingredients can be assembled ahead of time and prepped just before serving. In particular, the roasted pumpkin, and the roasted broccoli and mushrooms can be prepared ahead of time. Store the prepped ingredients separately so they don't become soggy. I like to prepare the noodles just before serving, as I find they lose their texture.

I'm calling these CSA noodle bowls in honor of my CSA veggies that always get thrown into soup.

CSA Noodle Bowls
Yield: 4 servings 

1 small pumpkin or other squash, cut into wedges
1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 package mushrooms, quartered
olive oil
salt and pepper
tofu, cut into 8 rectangular slabs
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T black strap molasses
2 tsp sambal oelek
1 carrot cut into thin matchsticks, or grated
1 package noodles, somen or ramen. If using ramen, use 2 packages for 4 people, omit flavoring packets.

Soup broth ingredients:
6 cups chicken or vegetarian broth, or water
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 strips fresh ginger

Special tools: about 3 mixing bowls, 2 half-sheet jelly roll pans, an 8" by 8" square baking dish, 2 large pots for stock and cooking noodles, cutting board, knife.

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 ยบ F

Step 2: Cut the pumpkin into wedges, remove the seeds, and toss the squash wedges with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to the squash, and place the wedges so the skin is touching the pan, on a lightly greased jelly roll pan. Cook 40-45 minutes, or until the pumpkin is cooked all the way through.

Step 3: Combine the peanut oil, soy sauce, molasses and sambal in a small glass bowl, and set aside.

Step 4: Slice the mushrooms into 1/4" slices and chop up the broccoli. Toss with 2 tsp of olive oil, and add salt and pepper. Lay out on a greased jelly roll pan. After the pumpkin has cooked 20 minutes, place the broccoli-mushroom pan into the oven and roast both the pumpkin wedges and the broccoli and mushrooms for the remaining 20 minutes. Note, the pumpkin will cook a total of 40-45 minutes

Step 5: Cut the tofu up into 8-10 thick rectangular pieces, or cube into 1" chunks. Lay the tofu pieces into a deep baking dish and pour the remainder of the soy-molasses mixture on top. Make sure all the tofu pieces are immersed. Place in the oven and cook for the remaining 20 minutes that the vegetables are cooking.

Step 6: In a large pot add the broth, ginger, and soy sauce and simmer over medium-low heat until ready to serve. Remove the ginger from the pot before serving.

Step 7: In another large pot, boil water for the pasta, and cook the noodles according to package directions.

Step 8: Once the vegetables and squash are done roasting, remove them from the oven, and set aside. Turn the broiler on high and broil the tofu until golden and bubbling, +/- 5 minutes, keeping a close watch on the tofu.

Step 9:  Now for the fun part. If possible line up all the ingredients in order so you can build the noodle bowls. In a bowl, add the noodles, and then top with roasted veggies, a wedge of pumpkin, a few blocks of tofu, and then ladle the broth on top. Garnish with the carrots and serve immediately.

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