meatless monday | rice noodle salad with peanut dressing & seared tofu

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

So says the Christmas song.  It’s also one of the busiest times of the year.  Although, this year, I feel like we’ve been busy since October.  The holidays are the time for potlucks, luncheons, Christmas parties & big family meals that all seem to require such planning & preparation that sometimes we actually forget to plan & prepare for those regular meals that happen in between all the get togethers.

Like when we had no breakfast food in the house on Thanksgiving & had to run out & grab bagels.

It’s during this crazy time of year that we cling to recipes that are simple to make, relatively healthy & provide leftovers for days.  Conchiglie with yogurt, peas & chile, vegetarian chilibacon flower soup & this rice noodle salad have been on heavy rotation lately.

rice noodle salad with peanut dressing - life with the lushersWe’ve been eating some version of this recipe for about three years now, tweaking the dressing along the way & I think we’ve finally got it just the way we like it, although adding a healthy squeeze of Sriracha on top certainly doesn’t hurt.

serves 4-6, generously

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk (light is fine)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1-2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce

8oz linguine-shaped rice noodles
1lb extra firm tofu, drained, pressed*
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil, for searing tofu
1/2 English cucumber, sliced into 1/4 inch thick half moons
1 red bell pepper, sliced, then cut into 1 inch pieces
2 medium carrots, shredded or cut into matchsticks
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, for topping
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, for topping
Sriracha, for topping

In the bowl of a small food processor or blender, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil & chili garlic sauce.  Blend on high until well combined.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the rice noodles & cook until softened, according to package instructions.  Drain & add to a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over top & toss well to coat.

While the noodles cook, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Slice the block of tofu in 8-10 slices & season with salt & pepper.  Add the tofu slices to the pan & sear until golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Flip the slices & sear on the other side, just a few minutes more.  Remove from the pan & let cool for a few minutes.  Cut each slice into about 4 more manageable bite-size pieces.

Add the cucumber, pepper, carrots & green onion to the large bowl with the dressed rice noodles.  Add in the tofu & toss gently to combine.  Top with chopped basil & cilantro & serve with Sriracha on the side.


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