Cilantro Noodle Bowl Recipe

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

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.

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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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I make a cilantro pesto that's good enough to eat with a spoon by itself. It's 1/4 c. of silvered almonds, toasted; 1 1/2 c. cilantro leaves; 1 jalapeno pepper pepper, seeded & coarsely chopped, 3 cloves garlic, crushed & peeled, 1/2 t. sea salt; 2 T. olive oil; 1 T. fresh lime juice, 1/4 t. fresh ground pepper. Combine all the ingredients, except olive oil & lime juice, in a food processor until finely chopped. With motor running add olive oil & lime juice until mixture forms a paste. Delicious on pasta, or served with chicken...or out of the spoon.


This looks Soooooo delicious!! I've never seen Romanesco before, but it looks like an interesting new vegetable to try. As always, thanks for the beautifully photographed and delicious recipes!

Kitchen {doodle} Bug :)

This looks Soooooo delicious!!


Yes, I have many times shoved the leftover cilantro into the bottom of the veggie bin for it to never be found again. At least until it has become a science experiment. The recipe looks awesome, thank!

Christie I.

Freezing veggies and herbs saves me! Slightly wilted spinach, cilantro, asparagus, basil and stale bread for crumbing (easier to cut small when frozen + no mold) are sharing space in my freezer as we speak, awaiting usefulness. If you freeze herbs with a little oil they also serve as instant dressings-last night I made almost this same dish, but with basil and potatoes instead of cilantro and noodles, from the market and my frozen herb supply. By the way, never dry cilantro, basil, or parsely if you can help it. Their flavor fades drastically when dried, I believe because they are water based flavors, but in the freezer they'll retain flavor for a long time. I'd caution you to label -I can keep up with about 4 or 5 baggies, but leaves are not easily identifiable when frozen.


I also freeze my leftover herbs. It works fabulous with thyme and bay. With delicate herbs like oregano, cilantro and parsley; I wash it, let it dry completely, then chop it and freeze in foil. It works well for cooked dishes, like soup or casseroles.

Traci (Soup of The Day)

The timing of this recipe is perfect! I had planned to do a somewhat similar dish for tonight's dinner using broccoli, soba noodles, lots of garlic, cayenne and white beans. In rummaging through the refrigerator earlier today, I noticed a big bunch of cilantro from our CSA that was still ok but needed to be used soon. With your recipe and a few tweaks to my original game plan, the forgotten cilantro will be spared the fate of finding itself in our compost bucket! Thanks, Heidi!


Cilantro...I bought several packets of the tulle bags you can get for wedding favors and about 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro, parsley or any other fresh herb fits into them. Pull the drawstring closed and toss into the crisper...if you have many different kinds label them. After a few weeks they dry out by themselves and you can bag them up and put them in the cupboard. Voila! About 1/2 tablespoon of dried herbs. They can then be addes to any recipe with out waste, a bit labor intensive but it works for me.


Snowmeg: Google "mint chutney recipe" and you'll find plenty of hits.


Snowmeg: Google "mint chutney recipe" and you'll find plenty of hits.


I love cilantro, I love that it bridges so many ethnic cuisines. Does anyone know how to make the cilantro dipping sauce that you often get with the crispy lentil wafers in Indian restaurants? I have tried to make it but with no success.


cilantro pesto! I love it! I put a bunch of cilantro in the blender with a head of roasted garlic, some salt, lime juice and olive oil--enough to make it possible to puree. It's great on sandwiches, as well as pasta, etc


This looks great!! however Cilantro makes me gag, I am one of those that can't tolerate the taste of it. Is there any other substitue? I would love to know because there are so many recipes that call for cilantro that I would love to try, but when cilantro is a main ingredient, I hate to "ruin" the dish.


When I buy a big bunch of cilantro and have a load left over i like to make an asian pesto out of it for the freezer - which i freeze in ice cube trays. the ingredients are cilantro, toasted peanuts, oil, garlic, ginger and depending how i am feeling, chili. (no cheese!). if i have parsley around that goes in too. these cubes can be used on anything you like, noodles or thrown in at the end of a stir fry as it adds a nice freshness.


We grew Romanesco in our garden for the first time this year. It is a variety of cauliflower and has a similar taste. And you can't beat its unique (dare I say beautiful?) appearance. We will definitely grow it again!


Use your cilantro pesto on polenta that you've combined with pepper jack cheese. Or on your a.m. scrambled eggs. Or in a quesadilla, a mexican lasagna,swirled into a southwest style soup, atop a bowl of refried beans, or mixed in with rice to create a green rice. Go crazy, it is wonderful stuff!


My mother-in-law is Indian and buys unspeakable quantities of cilantro cheap from the Indian grocery then chops it all finely and sticks it in the freezer. It's not great for fresh salads this way, but works well if cooking it into something else. I have to confess, though (don't tell her...) I did this and the poor old cilantro made it's way to the back of my freezer and lived there for about 2 years before I finally threw it away. But I did feel a little less guilty for at least making the effort. Thanks for the recipe...looks delicious!


if the cilantro/parsley/random fresh herbs are in too big of a bunch to use up straight away, you can always just freeze them (pre-chopped like a commenter above mentioned, or just pop the bunch in a bag and put the bag in a freezer).


I love cilantro and am really excited about your suggestion of noodle patties with the cilantro sauce as a dip! By the way, I made your raspberry mega scones this weekend, they were superb - even the picky guys at work loved the whole wheat scone dough!


Oooooh, this looks great! I have the same issues w/cilantro. Unless I am making a huge batch of salsa fresca, guacamole, or maybe some cilantro pesto, I just don't know what else to do with it (though it adds a nice zip to salads). I have a cat who likes to eat it, but he lives with my mom in San Jose, so her cilantro goes to him while mine just sits there. Now I have something else to do with it!


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