a cool vegan noodle salad with seared tofu + zingy almond butter sauce

cool vegan noodle salad w/ seared tofu + zingy almond butter sauce // via thefirstmess.compin it!cool vegan noodle salad w/ seared tofu + zingy almond butter sauce // via thefirstmess.compin it!cool vegan noodle salad w/ seared tofu + zingy almond butter sauce // via thefirstmess.compin it!
I have about a hundred notebooks and every colour of pen all over my house. Add to that a solid presence of loose leaf scrap paper with all caps notes and no titles to indicate what the lists of ingredients/directions amount to. This might explain why I can’t find the blueberry cardamom crumble muffin loaf recipe that I had worked on 4 times for my book and why I’m a bit rattled. I’m almost positive that it went out with the recycling when I did a mass clean up of the entire house about a month ago. I’ve since made a spreadsheet and taped it up to an area of the house that I’m calling, rather unceremoniously, the cookbook wall. I check off when things have been tested once, tested twice, documented, and photographed. Once I start getting to the photos in earnest, there will be pictures of food all over that wall too.

The other day, in one of those notebooks, I wrote a few notes about goals for the summer ahead. I’ve known for a while that this season is going to be pretty full with cookbook stuff, which has got me a little bit anxious. I was making a bunch of food plus a pie last weekend (not for the book) and it was pretty balmy in the house. The crust was starting to get all messed up and I was so irritated and impatient over it. The process put this dreary cloud over the afternoon. Once the pie was done (turned out totally fine), I looked for that page with the summer goals and quickly wrote down “ENJOY IT.”

I know it’s good fortune that I get to make food and share it with people for a living essentially. Four years of having this blog (June 19th is my blog birthday *blushing/kissy emoji face*) and the sheer luck of it all has never escaped me. I do get a little caught up with thinking about the next step pretty much constantly, which I think is a little leftover morsel of service/hospitality life. I’m always in a future state of mind with work, often veering towards worry.

Since we’ve only just started in the season of the big slow-down, I’m keen to do a bit more observing and outright gratitude practicing (and better note-taking :/). It’ll be a busy one, but in a proper balance with beach time, hikes, good (possibly slightly smutty) reads, cold beverages, even colder swims, drive-in hangs, adventures, and house projects, it could also be the best one ever. Going easy on myself (and others) and taking it all as it comes.

I made this easy cold noodle salad with lots of fun and weird add-ins because I feel like most people really dig a noodle salad with all the healthy goodies at a potluck/picnic/gathering sort of situation. It’s got a zippy little almond butter sauce with plenty of ginger and lime. Tofu is a once-in-a-while treat for me, so toasty little cubes on top of that veggie and noodle tangle felt pretty good. Watercress is a little pepper-y, peaches are juicy, the fresh peas are totally sweet, and the Thai basil gives a nice hit of fragrance. You could be a high-vibe hero at any picnic with this one.

A couple bonus things too. I’m competing in a smoothie contest hosted by the awesome people at So Delicious Dairy-Free. If my peach raspberry crumble shake wins (so yum), they’ll make a donation to World Animal Protection, a charity that does important work for animals, and by extension humans, worldwide. I would be so grateful for your vote. It’s just one little click right here. Self Magazine featured one of my chia bowls as a healthy breakfast–more chia everywhere please! The Kitchn loves my roasted carrot and harissa hummus, and is featuring a lot of cool articles on vegetable butchery. Last thing: I’ve been feeling the groovy buzz of this chaga bulletproof coffee almost daily (replacing the ghee with coconut manna) and I’m just loving it. Maybe you will too?

Big, glow-y + humid summer hugs this week ;)

cool vegan noodle salad w/ seared tofu + zingy almond butter sauce // via thefirstmess.compin it!cool vegan noodle salad w/ seared tofu + zingy almond butter sauce // via thefirstmess.compin it!cool vegan noodle salad w/ seared tofu + zingy almond butter sauce // via thefirstmess.compin it!cool vegan noodle salad w/ seared tofu + zingy almond butter sauce // via thefirstmess.compin it!

cool vegan noodle salad with seared tofu recipe
print the recipe here!
almond butter sauce/dressing recipe adapted from Epicurious
serves: 4-6
notes: I used my julienne peeler on a zucchini to add some extra vegetables into the mix, but this is totally optional. I was aiming to get some rice stick-style brown rice noodles for this, but couldn’t find them anywhere in my ‘hood, so went with some totally basic brown rice spaghetti. You could use soba, all veggie noodles or anything you like. This recipe is pretty chill :)

zippy almond butter sauce ingredients:
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
1 small garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup almond butter (I used a roasted + salted one)
1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (reserve zest for salad ingredients below)
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/4 cup filtered water

noodle salad ingredients:
1/2 package brown rice noodles/spaghetti etc. (about 6 ounces)
1 zucchini
1/2 cup shelled fresh peas
1 handful of fresh snap peas
3 handfuls of fresh watercress (or baby arugula, sliced kale, baby mustard greens etc.)
2 tablespoons chopped Thai basil (or regular basil)
1 green onions, sliced
1-2 medium peaches
2 teaspoons coconut oil
1/2 package firm organic tofu, patted dry (about 8 ounces/227 grams)
pinch of chili flakes
1 tsp lime zest
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
3 tablespoons raw almonds, chopped
salt and pepper

Make the almond butter sauce: place the peeled ginger and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Pulse a few times to chop. Then add the almond butter, tamari, lime juice, agave nectar, chili flakes, and the water to the food processor. Run the motor on high until you have a smooth mixture. Check the sauce for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set sauce aside.

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Rinse and drain noodles, trying to space them out in the colander so that they cool off faster. Place cool noodles in a large bowl.

Using a regular peeler or a julienne peeler, shave off pieces of the zucchini until you get to the center. Place zucchini “noodles” in the bowl with the brown rice noodles. Season all of the noodles with salt and pepper, toss, cover and place in the refrigerator.

Shell all of the peas, slice the snap peas in thirds, pat dry the watercress, chop the Thai basil and green onions, slice the peaches into the thin wedges or chunks. Bring out the bowl of noodles and add 1/2 of the almond butter sauce. Toss the noodles to coat. Then add the peas, snap peas, watercress, Thai basil, green onions, and peaches. Toss lightly to combine. Cover the bowl and return it to the refrigerator.

To make the tofu, heat the coconut oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. You want to make sure that it’s pretty hot. While the pan is heating, dice the dried-off tofu into 1/2-3/4 inch cubes. Towel off the cubes. Place about 1/2 of the tofu into the pan and let it sear on one side for a good minute. Season the tofu with salt, pepper, chili flakes and half of the lime zest.Stir the tofu/shake the pan a couple times until all sides of the tofu cubes are nice and brown, about 3 minutes. Empty the pan of cooked tofu onto a paper towel lined plate. Repeat this process with the other half of the tofu.

Bring the bowl of noodles out of the refrigerator and scatter the crispy tofu on top. Drizzle the remaining half of the almond butter sauce on top of the noodles and then garnish with the sesame seeds and chopped almonds. Serve the noodles with additional lime wedges if you like.

This salad will keep covered in the refrigerator for a few days, but it’s worth noting that the almond butter sauce might solidify a bit and the tofu definitely won’t be as crispy. If you’re bringing this to a potluck/picnic sort of thing, I’d recommend tossing the noodles with a tiny bit of oil, salt + pepper first (to avoid any sticking), piling all of the add-ins on top, putting the almond butter sauce in a jar, and mixing the whole thing up when you get to your event.

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  • Michelle @ Hummingbird High25/06/2015 - 5:45 am

    Yum!!! This is all sorts of delicious and gorgeous looking! Good luck in the competition; you have my vote!ReplyCancel

  • Anna25/06/2015 - 7:43 am

    this looks devine!!! Can’t wait to try it at home :D yumm

    https://aspoonfulofnature.wordpress.com/ReplyCancel

  • Tori@Gringalicious.com25/06/2015 - 8:16 am

    This looks divine and your photos are, as always, gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Becker25/06/2015 - 10:34 am

    Why is tofu a once-in-a-while treat for you? Is there something unhealthy about it?ReplyCancel

    • Laura25/06/2015 - 10:44 am

      Hi Sarah,
      If I eat too much soy–typically in the form of tofu, soy milk or some of the more refined soy foods, I tend to break out. So I definitely take steps to limit my consumption. For a lot of people it’s totally fine to eat on a regular basis though.
      -LReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth25/06/2015 - 10:48 am

    Yep. I feel like I’ve had that exact pie crust experience already the summer. I’m taking notes (on your notes?) here – and taking to heart your smart words about staying organized and slowing down. I try to stop and remind myself to enjoy things, but the lure of whatever’s next is hard to push aside. Happy anniversary! And here’s to a summer of productive times and good times, or working hard and then not working at all. I’m so excited to see that book you’re creating and am positive it’s going to be amazing. Cheers, friend.ReplyCancel

    • Laura25/06/2015 - 2:08 pm

      Pie-related failures are some of the most crushing.I think we both deserve some chill and enjoyment time ;) xoReplyCancel

  • Sydney | Modern Granola25/06/2015 - 11:36 am

    This is gorgeous! When summer kicks in, everything must be chilly or room temperature. It’s the kitchen code! Congrats on all of your success. Fingers crossed on that delicious-sounding smoothie!
    Happy belated blogging birthday!
    xx SydneyReplyCancel

    • Laura25/06/2015 - 2:02 pm

      Thanks so much, Sydney! I totally agree with that kitchen code, except for maybe the odd cookie ;)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Amanda | Pickles & Honey25/06/2015 - 12:39 pm

    That second photo with all of the ingredients laid out is so dreamy! I’m digging all of the flavors and textures you’ve got going on here, especially the peaches!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah | Well and Full25/06/2015 - 1:55 pm

    I love how you use natural lighting in your photos and don’t try to edit it away. It really makes your food photography stand out :)
    Also – good luck on the So Delicious competition! I voted for you :)ReplyCancel

    • Laura25/06/2015 - 2:01 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind words on my photography, Sarah! And thanks for that vote, too ;)ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough25/06/2015 - 2:04 pm

    Gorgeous salad! But it doesn’t stand a chance of making it to any potluck or picnic this summer, as I’d put the whole thing in my belly right away. ;)ReplyCancel

    • Laura25/06/2015 - 2:09 pm

      You’ve got your priorities straight ;)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Stephanie25/06/2015 - 2:26 pm

    I have yet to put seared tofu on a salad, but this recipe might push me into doing it. The peaches look like an unexpected, but beautiful, burst of sweetness. Can’t wait to try it this weekend for a friend’s potluck. That is, if I don’t eat all of it first… :)ReplyCancel

  • Nina25/06/2015 - 7:44 pm

    Wonderful! This sounds perfect in every sense, I need to make your almond butter sauce with lime (heart symnol :D) !!ReplyCancel

  • Abby25/06/2015 - 9:38 pm

    What a lovely post, Laura! This noodle salad looks delicious; so perfect for a summer lunch. And your photos are GORGEOUS! <3ReplyCancel

  • Erica25/06/2015 - 9:48 pm

    Your photos are some of my favorites, I love the lighting and the beautiful colors. This noodle salad is definitely something I shall be bringing to this summer’s potlucks. Thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel MacKay25/06/2015 - 10:19 pm

    Thanks for the shout out Laura :) the salad looks DELISH!ReplyCancel

  • lynsey | lynseylovesfood.com25/06/2015 - 10:25 pm

    this is such a crazy beautiful salad and could agree more with other comments about the lighting! killed it!! Also so much love on all those links. xoReplyCancel

  • Kathryn26/06/2015 - 4:30 am

    I think sometimes we/society/the internet puts so much pressure on us to make the most of every single moment of summer and tick off our bucket list items which is all well and good until you’re trying to balance that with working and blogging and all the other general stuff that people need to do in life and you can just end up in this crazy cycle of stress. All of which is to say, I’m all for slowing down and just enjoying the hell out of the season. Summer hugs to you Laura + thank you for providing a salad recipe that I know I’m going to enjoy all season long.ReplyCancel

  • […] First Mess shared a Cool Vegan Noodle Salad with Seared Tofu and Zingy Almond Butter Sauce that looks perfect for a hot summer […]ReplyCancel

  • kristie {birch and wild}26/06/2015 - 4:52 pm

    This is for sure the perfect potluck food for a summer day. Love the almond butter dressing. I have yet to experiment much with nut butters for dressings, but I am going to have to get on that.ReplyCancel

  • Jessie Snyder | Faring Well26/06/2015 - 6:00 pm

    I feel like I was right there in your mess with you while reading this! I hope you can get some time away to reset through the crazy cookbook process and soak up some rejuvenating summer vibes soon. Adventures have a way of bringing us back into the world as better people, don’t you think so?! I’m excited to see what your summer has in store and am gonna be your little adventure cheerleader mmmk!? ;)ReplyCancel

  • Ami@NaiveCookCooks27/06/2015 - 4:40 pm

    Laura so many good happy things happening in your life!! Best of luck and yes ENJOY LIFE! This salad is on my to make list asap!ReplyCancel

  • Emilie M.28/06/2015 - 2:28 pm

    Eating this at the moment. MIND : BLOWN.ReplyCancel

  • steph29/06/2015 - 12:32 pm

    happy blog birthday! what an awesome way to celebrate! cold noodle salads are exactly what i want to be eating when the weather is all hot and soupy…i can just imagine the flavors of this one with the thai basil and tofu. YUM
    xoxo

    ps – totes voted for you lady!ReplyCancel

  • Keara McGraw29/06/2015 - 8:44 pm

    What a great post, Laura. This recipe is the best (I love easily adapted yet endlessly delicious summer foods!) and the photographs are SO. fricken. lovely. When your career matches your passion, aka it’s what you also have done for enjoyment most of your life, it’s important (yet feels so hard) to sit down and make just for the hell of it. Here’s to practicing patience with passion.ReplyCancel

  • Kate29/06/2015 - 10:16 pm

    Hi, this looks delicious! Do you think I could substitute peanut butter for the almond butter? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laura30/06/2015 - 1:33 pm

      Hey Kate, I think you could definitely sub peanut butter for almond–with delicious results too :)
      -LReplyCancel

  • Corey Cananza30/06/2015 - 5:46 am

    I’ve tried all three diets- veganism, vegetarianism, and a meat diet and I’ve always felt the healthiest with a vegan diet. Eating meat always made my energy levels decline and milk and eggs did the same but to a lesser degree. Plenty of protein can be found in so many natural vegan sources so the myth that vegans don’t get enough protein is wrong too. Keep up your good work.ReplyCancel

    • Nina04/11/2015 - 9:40 am

      I agree! WHO says about 10% protein. Dr. Fuhrman talks about how we can’t repair ourselves on a high protein diet because of the push for growth rather than regeneration. I know that is what I need. Have no idea if works for others.ReplyCancel

  • […] just want to be Laura Wright‘s roommate so I can eat like this all the […]ReplyCancel

  • Claudia17/07/2015 - 8:14 pm

    I’m going to cook this for a potluck tonight. But what I wanted to say was that you have ads popping up that cover half the screen (iPad) and there is no way to get rid of them, thankfully I was able to print it because otherwise I couldn’t have made it.ReplyCancel

    • Laura20/07/2015 - 1:40 pm

      Hi Claudia, I’m so sorry about this. I will email my ad providers about these pop-up ads right away. (I hate those so much) Thanks for your patience.
      -LReplyCancel

  • sara forte31/07/2015 - 6:15 pm

    this is exactly what I have been feeling like as of late – cold noodles, a nutty sauce and some salty tofu chunkies. Your pictures are motivating me :) I hope that you find that recipe or have the memory to recreate it – sounds wonderful! Proud of how hard you are working! I know it will pay off – still awhile from now, but it WILL!ReplyCancel

  • Heather Wischmann03/08/2015 - 1:12 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious. I mean, almond butter sauce? I’m in!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn Wyse20/08/2015 - 11:09 am

    I made this salad last night and it was absolutely delightful. The sauce is amazing, and the veggie and peach combination works really really well. I’ll be adding this to my recipe rotation for sure. Thank you so much for sharing this with the world. What a gift! I’ll definitely be trying more recipes in the very near future.ReplyCancel

  • Laura Nanette15/09/2015 - 6:17 pm

    I think it’s pretty normal to stress about these things; yet find it great that you prioritize fun and enjoying the time.. It’s so important!
    I’ve recently started stressing myself as well over food that didn’t look as I had imagined it or the photos that didn’t look as great on the mac as they did on the camera. You give great inspiration with your work and I hope you continue that – which comes down to not stressing oneself. :)
    Best,
    Laura
    http://www.stylephantom.comReplyCancel

  • […] 1. This Cool Vegan Noodle Salad With Seared Tofu and Zingy Almond Butter Sauce (from The First Mess): […]ReplyCancel

  • Nina04/11/2015 - 9:36 am

    This was delicious! We spiralized the zucchini to make noodles on our handy dandy spiralizer. Cut back a little on almond butter and added a drizzle of sesame oil. Had with arugula and licked the bowl…thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn26/07/2016 - 7:28 am

    i cant believe I never made this until last night!!! its delicious and a new staple in my home!!! Thank you for your beautiful work!ReplyCancel

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