April 11, 2024/Recipes

Recipe: Tofu, Noodles and Pea Pods in a Thai Peanut Sauce

Vegetarian or vegan, get your Thai fix with this flavor-filled and healthy dish

Tofu noodles, pea pods and tai peanut sauce in a wok skillet

Your family will flip for this delicious Thai-inspired peanut, tofu and noodle dish. The pea pods, cilantro and scallions bring color and flavor to the peanut sauce, which is a great source of monounsaturated fat. You can even make it vegan if you like.

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Ingredients

For pasta

  • 8 ounces soba or udon noodles
  • 6 scallions, including a few inches of green, sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup thinly sliced pea pods
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts

For peanut sauce

  • 1/4 cup natural peanut butter or reduced fat smooth or chunky versions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup hot water

For tofu

  • 1 carton extra firm tofu
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

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Directions

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for the noodles. While the water is heating, prepare the tofu, peanut sauce and garnishes.
  2. Thinly slice pea pods with a sharp knife; dice scallions on a diagonal and finely chop the fresh cilantro. Set aside.
  3. Combine all peanut sauce ingredients in a food processor, except for the water, and puree until smooth. Gradually pour in the water. Taste and add more cayenne if needed.
  4. Drain the tofu with a paper towel; cut into 1-inch cubes and blot again with paper towel.
  5. While tofu is draining, combine the next six ingredients in a small bowl. Season with pepper. Heat a large nonstick pan and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  6. When the pan is hot, add tofu and cook over medium-high heat (without turning) until slightly golden and crisp, about 7 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side.
  7. Pour in the marinade, bean sprouts and pea pods and coat entirely. Cook over medium heat until the tofu is glazed, pea pods are slightly crunchy, and the sauce is of a syrup consistency. Don’t let it cook so long that it gets sticky.
  8. Add noodles to the boiling water and give a stir. Cook until tender but not mushy and drain.
  9. Immediately put the pasta in the pan with the tofu and vegetables. Pour the peanut sauce over the noodles, tofu and vegetables and toss. If the sauce needs thinning, add a bit of hot water. Add the thinly sliced scallions and cilantro, reserving some for serving.
  10. Prepare each serving and garnish with the remaining cilantro and scallions.

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Ingredient health benefits

  • Cilantro: This herb may be a divisive ingredient, but if it doesn’t taste like soap to you, it’s definitely worth chopping. Cilantro has antioxidants that protect your cells from unwanted inflammation and free radicals. It’s also a natural diuretic, so it helps your body flush out extra fluids (in other words, it makes you pee). And cilantro has magnesium, iron and manganese — vital minerals that promote healthy blood cells, bones and muscles. Natural compounds found in cilantro can also fight Salmonella and help with nausea.
  • Pea pods: You can never go wrong with these green machines. Peas are high in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that your body changes into vitamin A to support your eyes and vision. They also have vitamin C, an important part of a healthy immune system.
  • Peanut butter: A beloved nut butter, peanut butter is full of heart-healthy unsaturated fats that raise your “good” (HDL) cholesterol and lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. These fats also help your body take in vitamins from your food, like vitamin E and vitamin K. The next time you run out, consider choosing a peanut butter that’s natural or doesn’t have a lot of additives.
  • Garlic: Though it may not have a lot of visual appeal, garlic is considered a superfood for its surprising health benefits. Regularly eating garlic boosts your immune system as an addition to a nutritious diet. Certain compounds in fresh garlic can kill harmful bacteria in your food and even on your skin when it’s rubbed in. But that’s not all: This common ingredient may be able to support your heart health by lowering your blood pressure, but research is ongoing.
  • Tofu: Powered by plants, tofu is a complete protein that’s vegan- and vegetarian-friendly. It’s also packed with heart-helpful nutrients like flavonoids, omega-3s and healthy fats. And it’s a good source of calcium and magnesium, essential minerals for strong bones.
  • Black pepper: This spice provides more than just a kick to your meal. Black pepper helps your body absorb other nutrients, like the beta-carotene in peas. It also lowers unwanted inflammation, especially when you combine it with other anti-inflammatory foods and spices like turmeric and ginger. And as a bonus, black pepper’s ability to add more flavor to your dish lessens your craving for salt.

Nutrition information (per serving)

Servings = 5

Calories: 390
Fat: 15 g
Saturated fat: 2.5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 680 mg
Carbohydrates: 49 g
Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 19 g

Recipe provided by Melissa Stevens, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition Program Coordinator, Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitative Services.

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