One of the innumerable boons of interning at Compassion Over Killing, the fabulous national animal advocacy non-profit, comes in the form of a free lending library. In the back room of COK’s DC office sit two bookshelves—the first boasting such inspiring animal activist literature as Mark Hawthorne’s Striking at the Roots and Nick Cooney’s fascinating and invaluable Change of Heart, the second featuring a wide array of works in my personal favorite literary genre: cookbooks. Little did my boss and COK director Erica Meier know that when she informed me of the books’ availability for informal rental, I would cram as many of them as possible into my soon bursting backpack and haul nearly half of the entire library back to my apartment. Hey, no one else wanted to use them; I couldn’t in good conscience simply leave those paperback gastronomic masterpieces to gather dust!
The COK library cookbooks through which I’ve already thumbed include Terry Hope Romero’s Viva Vegan! and Vegan Eats World, Lindsay Nixon’s The Happy Herbivore, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Vegan Brunch, and Joy Pierson and Bart Potenza’s The Candle Café Cookbook. Isa’s “Tofu Benny” already played a role in the development of my recent Tofu-Kale Benedict on Homemade Muffins, while I eagerly look forward to recreating Terry’s Jamaican Plantain and Pumpkin Curry. Today’s featured dish, however, derives its impetus from the Coconut-Peanut Sauce that accompanies Joy and Bart’s Tofu Satay. Immediately after laying eyes upon the umami-rich sauce recipe, I developed quite the hankering for a bowl of…well, anything, really (veggies, brown rice, a shoe…) smothered in coconutty-peanutty-lipsmacking goodness. Lo and behold, not fifty pages after the Coconut-Peanut Sauce, The Candle Café Cookbook highlights a recipe for Spicy Soba Salad with Creamy Wasabi Dressing. Ali’s train of thought: “Coconut-Peanut Sauce sounds yummy. Coconut-Peanut Sauce would taste yummy on my flip-flop. Wait! Coconut-Peanut Sauce would taste even yummier on a bowl of soba noodles! Yes. Now that I think about it, soba noodles with Coconut-Peanut Sauce sound much yummier than flip-flop with Coconut-Peanut Sauce.” And thus this recipe was born.
I’ve manipulated Joy and Bart’s original Coconut-Peanut Sauce a bit by increasing the amounts of both peanut butter and coconut milk while decreasing the amount of tamari to produce a thicker, creamier, less salty sauce. This dish earns its “roasty toasty” title from the lemongrass-roasted cauliflower and kale, both of which impart a gorgeously deep, nicely charred flavor, with the citrus tones of the lemongrass picking up nicely on the lime juice in the sauce. While the chickpeas add a nutty dose of protein, the arame seaweed contributes a generous share of both calcium and magnesium in its ever-so-slightly sweet strands. Depending on the varieties of cauliflower and soba noodles you use, your finished dish may or may not boast the same Maleficent-esque color scheme as mine does; try to track down purple cauliflower and mugwort-infused soba noodles if you desire the same sinister-looking bowl. I hold no responsibility, however, for those of you who transmogrify into dragons after tasting the gigantically intense flavors of this purple-black-and-green creation (c’mon people, hasn’t anybody seen Disney’s Sleeping Beauty? Quite the high-quality film, I must say).
Roasty Toasty Soba Noodle Bowl with Coconut-Peanut Sauce—Low Sodium
Coconut-Peanut Sauce Ingredients:
5 tbsp unsalted peanut butter
5 tbsp coconut milk
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like it)
2 tbsp low-sodium tamari
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 small clove of garlic
Lemongrass-Roasted Kale and Cauliflower Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower, broken into small florets
4 small-medium leaves of kale, chopped
2 small dried stalks of lemongrass, ground into a powder in a spice grinder or1/2 large stalk of lemongrass, grated on a microplane grater
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
1/2 cup dried arame seaweed
8 oz soba noodles (make sure you buy 100% buckwheat noodles if you’re gluten-intolerant; many brands include wheat flour)
2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Make the Coconut-Peanut Sauce. Place all of the sauce ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Set aside. Can be made up to five days ahead of time.
Soak the arame. Place the arame seaweed in a bowl large enough to hold the arame after it expands to three times its original size. Cover the arame with a generous amount of water and let soak for at least 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and rinse.
Roast the kale and cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the prepared cauliflower and kale with the lemongrass and oil until well-coated. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and the kale is crispy.
Make the rest of the dish. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the soba noodles and cook according to package instructions. Drain and run under cold water. Place the cooked soba noodles, chickpeas, drained arame, and roasted veggies into a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the coconut-peanut sauce and stir well to coat. Serve warm.
Until next time, Ali.