Cilantro Noodle Bowl

Cilantro Noodle Bowl Recipe

How many times have you gone out, purchased a big, bushy bouquet of cilantro, torn off a small handful to use in whatever creation you were focused on at that moment, then shoved the rest of the cilantro into some neglected corner of your refrigerator? Yeah, me too. It happens more often than I would like to admit. I brought a particularly vibrant, dare I say perky, bunch of cilantro home the other day and promised myself to use it. All of it. This zesty, cilantro-centric soba noodle bowl features a hefty dose of the green stuff, pan-toasted tofu, and plenty of vegetables.

Cilantro Noodle Bowl

A few other ideas that come to mind - an alternative version might feature brown rice in place of the soba noodles. I like a bit of kick along with my cilantro, and next time I make try some chopped serrano chile in place of the cayenne. You could do soba noodle patties and use the cilantro dressing as a dipping sauce. Other ideas? Throw them into the comment ring.

I'm finally back from traveling (at least for a while) and looking forward to being back in my own kitchen. I was on the east coast for the past five days for a wedding, and in the same shot spent a day with one of my best friends from high school who now lives outside Philadelphia. Lots and lots to share with you inspired by these recent trips.

Cilantro Noodle Bowl Recipe

For those of you who aren't familiar with baby Romanesco, you can see it in the second photo in this post. Feel free to substitute any other (lightly cooked) vegetable you prefer - many will work well with the buckwheat and cilantro.

8 ounces dried soba noodles
2 - 3 cups baby Romanesco or broccoli florets
zest of one lemon
2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
2 large cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
scant 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 ounces extra-firm nigari tofu

Cook the soba in a big pot of rapidly boiling salted water just until tender - but about 20 seconds before the pasta is done cooking add the Romanesco (or broccoli) to the pot. You want it to barely cook. Now drain and rinse under cold running water. Sprinkle with lemon zest and set aside.

In the meantime make the dressing by combining the cilantro, garlic, cayenne, salt, and olive oil. Blend in a food processor or chop by hand. Taste, adjust for more salt if needed and set aside.

Drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut it into rectangles roughly the size of your thumb (1/2 inch thick and 1 inch long). Cook the tofu in a dry nonstick (or well-seasoned) skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the pieces are browned on one side. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy. Remove from skillet, let cool a bit and if desired cut into matchsticks (as seen in the photo), sometimes I don't bother and use larger pieces instead.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, Romanesco and a couple big splashes of the cilantro dressing. Toss until well combined. Add the tofu and gently toss again, add more dressing and a couple pinches of salt if needed. Turn out onto platter and crown with a couple pinches of cayenne and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Serves about 4 - 6.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • funny how we all have the same kitchen issues, like never using up the cilantro. I'm fated to find old cilantro in the back of my refrigerator for the rest of my life, I think.

    Elizabeth
  • Does romanesco have a similar flavor to broccoli? I've seen them at the market, and now I'm inspired to buy some and try this recipe!

    Books for Foodies
  • Definitely never seen romanesco before! Wow... Different look. It's that fine line between looking culinary and non-edible with them... but now it's time to try 'em out! Interesting dish.

    Tom Marsh
  • I chop the entire bunch of parsley or cilantro, or whatever the fresh herb is. Then I just use the amount required in the recipe, and put the rest in a small ziplock bag in the freezer. Then the next time I need chopped herbs, it's ready to go. A little extra work initially, but definitely worth it. Never seen romanesco before, but will keep an eye out for it. The recipe sounds wonderful.

    Wylie
  • Cilantro is really good in pho or a pho-style noodle soup - any noodle soup with a rich, savory broth of any kind will take well to being freshened a good handful of chopped soft herbs, like cilantro, basil, mint, scallions, etc. Or you can finely chop a good handful of cilantro, cover it with low-sodium soy sauce and brown rice vinegar, throw in some toasted sesame and some slices of Thai bird chiles, and use thtat as a dipping sauce for fried tofu.

    James
  • Welcome home. I too have been stuck in a constant rut of cilantro wasting recently. However, I used the most ever the other week, about 3/4 of it! I made tacos and quesadillas like a fiend for a full week - they were delicious but I think I was motivated to simply rid myself of cilantro. I have never seen baby Romanesco before, they hardly look edible. I remember learning in high school that in nature, the brightly colored and sharp looking plants and animals are usually poison. What do they taste like?

    Nick
  • This makes me want some noodles. I also make a noodle salad like this one on warm days with cilantro, lime juice and a hit of honey with julienned veggies (carrots, cucumber, sprouts etc). Soba noodles are nice, and so are thick slurpy udon noodles.

    Jeni
  • I love cilantro, but don't use it as often as I used to as my husband isn't a fan. This sounds wonderful, I'll just have to make it for myself when he's out of town!

    Erin
  • I love cilantro, and I tend to use a lot of it. Sometimes, though, it does get kind of shoved off to the side and devolves into slime. Keeping a paper towel in the bag with the cilantro seems to stave off the inevitable for about a week.

    Fearless Kitchen
  • I forget about cilantro after my first use of it too. What an excellent idea this recipe is. The way that romanesco is makes it look like weed.

    Katie B
  • I'm glad to see I'm not the only person who's never had Romanesco before. They are very cute! Unlike you, I have a hard time keeping cilantro in the fridge. My husband puts it on everything! However, I will buy an extra bunch next time I'm at the store just so I can make these noodles. Yum!

    Cate
  • Romanesco? Is that what those pinecone looking things are? Ha! I've never seen that before. Sounds like a lovely dish though I am consistent in overcooking soba noodles and turning them to mush. As for the about-to-go-bad herb problem, I've been adding them to my juicer and punching up fresh fruit juices!

    Michelle @ What Does Your Body Good?
  • A simple idea but a great one. Like you, I'm guilty of letting big bunches of cilantro waste away in my refrigerator too often. Soba is one of my favorite noodle, and I am certain I will try what you did sometime soon, but probably with broccoli.

    Bentoist
  • Not necessarily with cilantro, but that happens all the time to me also! Ahh, the benefits of a herb garden, to take a small sprig whenever you need it and no waste!

    Madeleine
  • Have I been living under a rock? I thought those vegetables looked very broccoli-ish, but not like any broccoli I've come across. Romanesco, then, huh. Are those farmers market finds? They look interesting. And yes, we all experience cilantro mush...throw into that category parsley and sometimes even (gasp! because it lasts so long!) mint. They're just too fungus-loving to use up quickly enough...and the bunch you get is so big!

    Erin
  • I, too, suffer from the "Toss cilantro after using only a bit" syndrome. Alas, in my neck of the woods, the cilantro on offer is the opposite of big and bushy. It's small and limp and tired. So, those couple of spoonfuls I often need for something cost about a buck each. Woe is me.

    justcorbly
  • I have also never cooked with the romanesco, it looks like a galactic broccoli of so, but now I know what to do with it. About the cilantro, there is a very nice recipe from Chile called "chancho en piedra", where you combine tomatos, onion, garlic, lots of cilantro, parsley, bit of red chilli paste, salt and peper. Everything very finelly chopped and the onions blanched a bit. Is delicious with bread, meat, etc.

    Cata
  • I bet this has a quite a kick with the raw garlic dressing! Like the idea of using up those lonely bits of cilantro - you could possibly even make the sauce with leftover bits of cilantro stalk from another recipe if you were super frugal? Boiling the veg for the last minute of the pasta cooking time is something I often do and it is such an easy way to save on a bit of washing up!

    Sophie
  • I love the look of that Romanesco. I see it at my farmers' market all the time, but i never know what to do with it. this looks like a yummy recipe.

    alexandra's kitchen
  • I love the look of that Romanesco. I see it at my farmers' market all the time, but i never know what to do with it. this looks like a yummy recipe.

    alexandra's kitchen
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