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This eggplant tofu noodle dish is completely addictive, with a complex flavor that’s more than the sum of its parts. It tastes even better on the second or third day which means it puts an extra big smile on my face when I open my lunch at the end of the week. The recipe is from Deborah Madison’s Greens Cookbook with a few adjustments and substitutions – less salt, more vegetables, soba instead of egg noodles, and the addition of tofu. Sauteed broccoli or mushrooms instead of eggplant would be a great variation as well.

Marinade
7 tbsp dark sesame oil
7 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp sugar (I like to use brown), dissolved in 2 tbsp warm water
1-2 tsp salt (go easy first and add more later)
1 tbsp chili oil
10 scallions, white and 2/3 of green parts thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Vegetables and noodles
1 1/2 lbs eggplant (about 2 small/medium or 1 very large eggplant)
8 oz dry soba noodles
1 package extra firm tofu, drained
4 tbsp oil for frying
1-2 cups snow peas, strings removed
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Garnish
A few tbsp chopped cilantro
optional: 1/4 cup sesame seeds or 1/2 cup roasted chopped peanuts

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Pierce the eggplant(s) in several places and bake until they are soft and skins start to shrivel.

In the mean time, boil the snow peas in a large pot of water for just a couple of minutes until they turn bright green and tender. Remove and rinse with cold water in a colander. Add noodles to boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, until done. Drain and rinse with cold water, then spread noodles out on a towel to keep them from sticking.

Combine the marinade ingredients and stir well. Put the noodles in a large bowl and toss with about half of the marinade. Set aside.

Soba noodles with marinade

Soba noodles with marinade

Cut the tofu into 1/4 inch thick slabs and pan fry in a few tablespoons of oil over high heat until both sides are golden brown. I usually do this in a few batches so it’s easier to turn them over.

Pan-frying tofu

Pan-frying tofu

When the eggplant is cool, peel and cut into 1/4 inch strips. Toss eggplant and tofu with the remaining marinade, garlic and ginger in a medium bowl.

Slice carrots and snow peas into thin strips. Add, along with marinated eggplant and tofu, to noodle bowl. Toss to combine. Garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds or peanuts, if using.

Serves 6, and tastes even better left over.

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