One of the first vegan restaurants I fell in love with in Toronto was Fresh. It defintely became a go-to when I moved to Toronto about 7-8 years ago. Although I don’t frequent this restaurant as much anymore, I still always think about a few of their dishes from time to time. One of those dishes is their Phyto Salad recipe. Which is why I made this vegan soba noodle salad with creamy tahini dressing. Don’t let the ingredient list intimidate you, this soba noodle salad can be prepped in advance to make things easier.
What Are Soba Noodles
Soba noodles traditionally come from buckwheat flour and sometimes other wheat flour. Soba is the Japanese word for buckwheat. It’s a thin noodle that is either served chilled (like I’ve done with this soba noodle salad) or in hot broth as a noodle soup. Soba contains all eight essential amino acids, making it a great addition to your diet no matter what.
There are different types of soba noodles to look out for. The ones that I use are 100% gluten free (usually a mix of buckwheat and another grain, like rice). Often times, most soba noodles that people use are a blend of buckwheat and wheat. These aren’t suitable for someone on a gluten free diet. So be sure to check the label on your soba noodles if you need to avoid gluten. Personally, I don’t follow a gluten free diet (or any diet), but I still happen to like the gluten free ones (go figure!).
The reason that most people don’t like the gluten free buckwheat soba noodles is because they can stick together after cooking. To avoid this, you need to ensure you really rinse them well under cold water. Use a fork (or clean hands) to make sure they’re all separated. Use whichever soba noodles you like the most in this recipe.
Which Soba Noodles I use
The soba noodles I always buy are from a brand called King Soba. I LOVE these noodles, because they are organic and have tons of gluten free options. I love the sweet potato/buckwheat noodle one and the brown rice/wakame one.
How to Make Crispy Tofu
For this vegan soba noodle salad, I like adding some plant-based protein to it. Although I’m not vegan, I like to switch up my proteins and I eat plant-based a lot, simply because I enjoy it. Tofu is another dish that a lot of people don’t like. Again, I think it’s because they haven’t cooked it right. It can be SO delicious and is one of my favourite sources of plant-based protein. Over the years, I’ve found the best way to cook them is in the oven with your marinade ingredients and a dusting of arrowroot powder. The arrowroot helps the tofu get nice and crispy, so don’t skip it!
If you want to read more about soy, have a look at this blog post I’ve written about the topic in much more detail.
If you have the time, let the tofu marinate for an hour or so beforehand. But, if not, just marinate for 10 minutes while you wait for your oven to heat up. For this vegan soba noodle salad, I like slicing the tofu in triangles.
How to Make This Soba Noodle Salad Recipe
This soba noodle salad has a few moving parts to it, so it isn’t something you’ll want to throw together on a whim. That’s only because you want to first prepare the tofu, which takes a little bit of time.
Making the Tofu
The first thing you want to do when preparing the tofu is to press as much water from it as possible. To do this, simply remove the tofu from the package and wrap in a clean towel (or paper towel) and place it on a plate. Then place a heavy object on top of that towel with the tofu in it. I use my cast iron pan. Let it sit for about 20-30 minutes.
Once that’s done, you can go ahead and slice the tofu into triangles. Then you’ll want to marinate the tofu for a little bit. If you have the time, you can marinate it for the full hour, if not, a quick 10 to 15 minutes will work too.
Once you’ve allowed the tofu to marinate, you’ll pop it in the oven for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Make the Tahini Dressing
The tahini dressing has a few more ingredients than a typical one, but I promise you, it’s all worth it! The combination of ingredients leads to SO much flavour. You’re going to want to drizzle this sauce on everything. Most of the ingredients are pantry staple, with the exception of hemp oil.
The hemp oil I use is this one from Manitoba Harvest. I like using hemp seed oil because it adds a lot of nutrition, including 12g of omega 3 & 6 per serving. This one is also cold pressed, vegan and has a delicate flavour that isn’t too strong. If you don’t have hemp seed oil, you can substitute for more extra virgin olive oil, or use flax oil.
Mixing up the dressing is super quick though. Just throw everything in a food processor or high speed blender and blend until its smooth and creamy. You can add some water to thin it as needed. As you can see by the photo below, I prefer it on the thicker side!
If you’re looking for a different type of tahini dressing, definitely check out my kale salad with sweet potatoes, lentils and a beet tahini dressing.
Chop Your Veggies and Prep Your Add-In’s
While the tofu is cooking and after you’ve made the dressing, it’s time to chop and prep your veggies.
Slice the cabbage thinly and set that aside. Then slice your mint, and your sun dried tomatoes. The sun dried tomatoes I use are the dried variety, not the ones packed in oil. You can typically find the dried variety at a bulk store. If you can’t find the dried ones, you can sub that for the oil packed ones. Just be sure to place them in hot water if the dried ones are really hard.
Toast Your Nuts
I know, another step! This one is kind of crucial though. I wouldn’t make you toast your nuts if it wasn’t necessary. Toasted nuts taste SO much better, so trust me, and just do it. I used a mix of pistachios and walnuts. Feel free to use whatever you want. Cashews, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, almonds. Anything goes. Just toast them and then give them a rough chop.
I find the easiest way to toast is on a skillet over medium heat. Put a timer on, so you don’t forget them and burn them! Usually they only take about 6 to 8 minutes.
How to Meal Prep This Vegan Soba Noodle Salad
To meal prep this vegan soba noodle salad with tahini dressing, simply have everything cooked and in a container. But keep the tahini dressing separate. The tahini dressing will thicken in the fridge, so let it come to room temperature and thin with water if needed before adding to the soba noodle salad. This is a cold soba noodle salad, so it’s perfect for meal prep! Don’ worry about it looking pretty, just throw in the soba noodles, cabbage and sprouts along with the add-in’s. All that matters is that it tastes amazing, and it does!
If you make this vegan soba noodle salad, please let me know by tagging me on Instagram. Or you could leave a rating and/or review below! It truly means so much to me when I hear from you.
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Soba Noodle Salad
A delicious, meal prep friendly cold soba noodle salad that's vegan and packed with flavour!
For the Tofu
For Tahini Dressing
Prepare the tofu first by pressing any excess water from it. To do this, wrap the tofu in a clean towel or paper towel and place it on a plate. Place a heavy object on top of the towel, such as a cast iron pan. Once the water has been pressed (about 20 to 30 minutes), slice it into triangles and add to a large baking dish.
Add the tamari, avocado oil, and garlic powder to the tofu and mix gently to combine and ensure the tofu is all covered. Sprinkle the arrowroot powder on top and gently combine to ensure no arrowroot powder remains. Let it marinate for about 15 minutes (up to an hour if you want).
Preheat the oven to 400ºF (204ºC) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the tofu triangles on the tray and bake for 12 to 13 minutes, then remove and flip over the tofu. Bake for an additional 12 to 13 minutes more.
Meanwhile, make the dressing by combining the tahini through to the maple syrup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Thin with water as needed if it's too thick. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles according to package directions. If using gluten free noodles, be sure to rinse very well in cold water for a minute to help with any noodles sticking together. Set aside, and drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil to avoid them sticking together.
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the nuts for 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant and slightly brown in colour. Remove, let cool and then roughly chop and set aside.
Divide the noodles onto your plates, then top with the sliced cabbage and sun dried tomatoes. Add the microgreens on top of the cabbage. Serve with the tofu on the side and the tahini dressing on the side. Garnish with toasted nuts, mint and edible flowers if you wish. When ready to eat, drizzle the tahini dressing all over and enjoy!