Happy New Year! It’s funny – New Year’s is synonymous with resolutions, or changes you’re going to make in the upcoming year. Simultaneously, we associate New Year’s with traditions, or habits that have been embedded in our lives for years. How do we change for the better while staying true to meaningful tradition? For me, it all comes back to food. Many cultures have deeply rooted New Year’s food traditions. For Italians, the coin like shape of lentils symbolizes luck and prosperity. Lentil Loaf, anyone? In Spain, 12 grapes are eaten when the clock strikes midnight to symbolize happiness and luck for the 12 months ahead. Here in the United States, our Hoppin’ John dish of black eyed peas and greens represent coins and money for future prosperity. Every culture has their respective traditions, but one of my favorites is that of Japan and the soba noodle. Soba noodles are slurped whole to symbolize a long life, so I was inspired to create a dish of my own.
Growing up, my family would always order Asian takeout on New Year’s Eve. I wanted to revisit that tradition, but incorporate my new habits of eating healthier. This dish is packed with the bold and bright flavors of ginger, garlic and serrano pepper and packed with prosperous greens ; )
I love soba noodles for a few reasons:
- Soba noodles are made of buckwheat which has a delicious and nutty flavor.
- Buckwheat is a gluten-free whole grain with zinc, copper, manganese and protein.
- They cook in just a few minutes and have a sturdy texture similar to whole wheat spaghetti.
You can find them in most grocery stores, but I visited my local Asian grocery store to pick these up.
As I cooked this dish, my kitchen was filled with a sweet, savory and spicy perfume. This bowl is packed with plant protein from the edamame, tofu and soba noodles and gets an extra boost of meaty texture from the mushrooms.
I used baby bellas because that’s what I had in my fridge, but shiitakes are a little more traditional. I also used a low-sodium tamari, but soy sauce or liquid aminos would work as well.
The serrano pepper added just the right amount of heat without being overpowering, but you could certainly tweak it to your taste. It’s balanced by a touch of maple syrup and rice vinegar.
This dish is one of the reasons why I love to cook. It shows that healthy food can be mouthwatering, savory, beautiful dishes that fill you up with good energy and positive thoughts (like longevity and prosperity!) So, what are my resolutions? Continue to cook, update my blog more, maybe upgrade from an iphone 5, and keep moving forward. As I look back on 2016, I realize it’s all a blur (and that’s not just the champagne talking.) For me, 2016 was a year of steps. I completed my Dietetic Internship, became a Registered Dietitian, moved to Los Angeles, moved back to the east coast, and was in a constant state of trying to move forward without knowing where I was supposed to be. Steps were taken forward and steps were taken back. I miss my sister and the LA life, but my goals for 2017 include letting go of where I think I’m supposed to be and pursuing my passions exactly where I am.
I topped mine with kimchee and cucumbers for an extra crunch and I’m feeling the prosperity and longevity already! Definitely better than takeout and sent me into 2017 feeling happy and healthy. Oil free, vegan and packed with nutrients, I’ll be slurping these noodles whole for the months to come.
Do you have any New Year’s food traditions? How about resolutions?
- 1 package soba noodles
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms of choice
- 1/2 cup shelled edamame
- 1 cup kale, thinly sliced
- 1/2 package extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1 large green onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 serrano pepper, minced
- Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Drain, and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid. Toss noodles in rice vinegar and set aside.
- Preheat a nonstick wok to medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and edamame. Cook 3-5 minutes until mushrooms soften and begin to release their liquids, adding soba noodle water 1 tablespoon at a time to deglaze.
- Add kale to wok and saute another 3 minutes until kale softens and cooks down.
- While vegetables are cooking, whisk together all sauce ingredients. Add two tablespoons of sauce to vegetable mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- In the same wok, add tofu and remaining sauce. Cook until tofu is browned on the outside and has absorbed most of the sauce.
- To assemble to bowls, layer noodles, vegetables and tofu. Serve with fresh cucumber, kimchi, or toppings of choice!