Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tangy Tahini Noodles with Tempeh and Vegetables

Clean-out-the fridge carelessness took me somewhere new last night!  I had some leftover veggies, and it was cold, so I decided to make a stir-fry dish that was maybe a bit like this cold noodle salad from awhile back.  BUT, I also had two little batches of homemade salad dressing that I wanted to use up: one was an Asianish vinaigrette, with seasoned rice vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, canola oil, and sesame seeds.  The other was straight-up miso-tahini sauce thinned with water.  I couldn't decide which to put on the noodles, so I used both, and it was fantastic!  Tahini adds a richness, almost like cheese or cream, but the vinegar (and the bit of sugar in it) was a flavor I don't often cook with.  I don't like foods that taste like vinegar, but this ended up being just the right amount to add a whole new dimension to the dish without dominating.

I regret that the measurements for the dressing are guesses.  They're probably good in relation to each other, but not necessarily to the rest of the dish.  Just do it by taste until I have a chance to recreate this dish and actually measure.  You'll also want to be careful with the oil and tamari--since you add each ingredient twice, it might be easy to overdo it.  And, since there's miso too, you'll definitely want to be cautious about making it to salty.  You could always reduce the sauce to its bare bones--miso or tamari, tahini, and vinegar--but I think the reason this tasted so good was because of the doublings that went on.

Also, please don't not make this recipe because it calls for nori.  It's just the seaweed sheets that are used to wrap sushi rolls; you can get it at any Japanese grocery or Whole Foods, or omit it.  It adds a great oceany taste and chewy/crunchy texture.

Tangy Tahini Noodles with Tempeh and Vegetables

1 lg block tempeh, cut into 1/2-in cubes
3-4 servings pasta (I used whole wheat spaghetti)
1 TB olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB ginger, minced
1 small hot chile (I used serrano), minced
1-2 carrots, thinly sliced on a diagonal
1-2 c sugar snap peas
other veggies as desired
dressing (please note that these measurements are total guesses):
1 tsp canola oil
1 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 TB seasoned rice vinegar (or, rice vinegar + sugar)
1 TB sesame seeds
1 tsp tahini
1 tsp miso
2 TB water
toasted nori, cut into little strips

1. Steam the tempeh in a strainer or steamer (which is itself in a saucepan of water) while you are prepping the veggies.
2. When the tempeh is done, remove from saucepan and set aside.  Use the tempeh water leftover to cook the noodles, adding more water if necessary.
3. While the noodles are cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Cook the onions until slightly soft and fragrant (about 5+ minutes).  Stir in garlic, ginger, and chile, and cook another minute or so.  Then add tempeh and carrots, cook a few minutes, then add peas (basically, put in first the things that need to cook the longest).
4. While everything in the skillet is cooking, combine the dressing ingredients separately and mix well.  Add a tiny bit of tamari to the skillet near the end.   Turn off heat.
4. When pasta is done (and maybe slightly underdone), strain and rinse as directed.  Add pasta and dressing to the skillet, mix well.  Serve hot or cold, topped with toasted nori strips.  Serves about 4.

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