Noodles are making their first appearance here today, a cause for concern or a reason to celebrate? I’m not quite sure.
I’ve been really jaded by my own cooking lately. Being a little spoiled when it comes to repetition I try to make new things all the time, so what’s the deal? Regardless of my lack of repertoire, there’s always some similarity in the ingredients I choose and the resulting flavours. There’s always that special touch that every person has when they prepare a meal that makes it distinctly their own. I’ve been tired of my special touch, tired of being able to smell and taste it in every meal regardless of whether I’m frying eggs, making a smoothie, or trying out something completely new. There’s no way of getting away from it if I want to prepare my own food.
My sources of inspiration are almost always blogs, magazines, cookbooks, meals I’ve had with friends or at restaurants, what’s in the fridge or at the market, you know…the usual ones. I’m tired of them too. So aside from getting takeout for the rest of the week, which I refuse to torture myself with, what’s a girl to do? Eat noodles?
Though these ideas don’t solve the problem of being tired of your own cooking, I’d like to share two more unusual sources of inspiration, ones I turn to on days like today to make things just a little bit more interesting.
Online restaurant menus are a great way to get ideas, and more importantly, get excited about trying something new. Of course, it’s not as easy as having the meal brought over to you at the restaurant, but cooking it yourself lends a few other advantages – you can always make it cheaper and healthier. There are no recipes attached to menus, but if you’re comfortable with the art of improvisation, descriptive menus are a great place to start!
Cookbooks are a trivial source of cooking inspiration, but how many of us actually pay attention to the recipes without pictures? Lately, I’ve been making an effort to skip the glossy photos, and seek those recipes hiding in between. There’s so much hidden goodness in my favourite cookbooks and ignoring recipes without photos is truly missing out. I also love using my imagination to anticipate what the end result will be like, unbiased by the author’s presentation.
The noodle bowl I’m sharing today was inspired by this online menu from Fresh. I recently chatted with a friend about this restaurant, and was convinced to give it another chance despite earlier disappointments. I dug up their online menu just out of curiosity and finally embraced some new found energy and excitement to cook up something that sounded super delicious based on one of the items in the “Fresh Bowls” section. They have brown rice and soba noodle options and the description goes something like this:
“Powerhouse: avocado, chick peas & grilled tofu steaks with sunflower sprouts,
Toasted Nut & Seed Mix, tomato, red onion & spicy tahini sauce”
Now I didn’t have all of the ingredients, but it didn’t matter since I was going to have to improvise the recipe anyway. Here it goes!
Before you cook:
If you’re looking for a gluten free option, read the label on the soba noodles package. Theoretically, soba noodles are made with buckwheat flour and are gluten-free, but I find that most brands use wheat flour as well. These are gluten-free and are my favourite.
I used Thai curry paste in the dressing. I can’t tolerate any heat in my food, unfortunately, so the curry paste I have is fairly mild, but still has a ton of flavour from herbs and spices. Know your curry paste, and adjust accordingly. I assume most people will want this bowl spicier, so ignore my curry paste quantity and use your own based on your heat tolerance and curry paste.
- 1 tsp. curry paste
- 1 Tbsp. tahini
- 3 Tbsp. coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice + more to garnish
- 1/2 cup diced cucumbers
- 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onions
- 1 package (250g) dried soba noodles
- salt to taste
- sunflower sprouts, for garnish
- sunflower seeds, for garnish
- To prepare the dressing, combine curry paste with tahini, then add coconut milk and lime juice, season with salt.
- Prepare the veggie mix by combining all of the diced veggies and chickpeas in a bowl. Season with lime juice and salt.
- Cook soba noodles based on package instructions, then toss with dressing.
- The soba noodles will absorb liquid from the dressing, so add more coconut milk or water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to thin out the dressing so that it’s very creamy and the noodles are not sticking together.
- Taste and add more lime juice and salt, as needed.
- Divide noodles and veggies between 4 bowls.
- Top with sunflower sprouts and seeds. Makes 4 servings.