I know I’ve mentioned it before but for those who don’t know, I have a MAJOR food blog crush on Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks. Her blog helped me not only to expand my grain & legume repertoire, but it actually inspired me to start this little endeavor we all know as Poor Girl Eats Well. Her photos & stories are beyond beautiful, her style understated, real and elegant. And her recipes show how incredibly delicious real food can be. True inspiration all the way ’round.
This was one of the very first 101 Cookbooks recipes I tried back before I was a food blogger myself. I’ve made it many a time during some scary bare bones moments, but I also like to make it when I’m looking to have a flavorful, nutritious dinner that takes about 2.5 seconds to make. Like many of you, I’m a very busy bee, so it’s nice to have simple recipes to fall back on when you are too pressed for time to make anything too elaborate. This dish is part of that repertoire.
As you’ll read in her original post, Heidi was inspired by her own memories of needing to eat those bare bones staples, and that’s one of the reasons why I love this recipe so much. It beautifully illustrates how easy it is to take the most run-of-the-mill, affordable ingredients and turn them into gorgeous, healthful meals with very little effort.
That’s the core of PGEW, and I take great pride in making simplest ingredients into something sexy, a lot of times it’s because that’s all I have to eat. It’s nice to see that even a pro like Heidi, who has access to some of the finer ingredients in life, will take the super-simple approach from time to time and make something like this noodle dish.
I’ll make a few tweaks to this recipe depending on what kinds of greens I have and how rushed I may be. The original recipe uses kale, but I’ve made this with chard or spinach and it always turns out fabulously. When I have the time – and the panko crumbs - I will make Heidi’s parmesan-crusted tofu, but in my regular version I just give it a quick stir-fry with some garlic and sprinkle extra parmesan at the end. And because I’m a garlic freak, I also like to use a little bit of fresh garlic to give this dish an extra kick.
Did I happen to mention how ridiculously affordable it is? It comes out to just around $1 per serving, an absolutely incredible deal for such a hearty meal (hey, that rhymed…). Almost makes it taste even better than it already does.
Garlic-Parmesan Soba Noodles (makes 4-6 servings; total cost per serving: $1)
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Garlic Soba Noodles recipe
1 8 oz. package dried soba noodles
8 oz. extra-firm tofu, sliced into 1″ x 1″ strips
2 T olive oil, divided
1 large bunch of spinach (chard or kale will also work), coarsely chopped
1/2 c chopped scallions
1 t + 1/2 t granulated garlic
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 c grated Parmesan
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Cook the soba noodles according to package instructions. Drain well, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and set aside.
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil.
3. Add the tofu strips and stir fry quickly, sprinkling 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic and a generous pinch of parmesan about midway through the cooking process.
4. Remove from heat & set aside (blot with paper towel if needed)
5. In the same skillet add the remaining olive oil and the chopped fresh garlic. Cook until garlic just begins to brown and turn fragrant.
6. Add the spinach and cook for 30 seconds to a minute, until it just begins to wilt.
7. Add the soba noodles, granulated garlic, parmesan and scallions and toss together until combined. Remove from heat.
8. Place a generous amount of noodles on each plate or bowl, top with a few tofu strips, sprinkle with extra parmesan and some ground black pepper, and enjoy!