I’m sooooo ready for the lighter foods of spring and summer! This week I made a deliciously light and fresh noodle bowl with crispy tofu, fresh vegetables, and a simple peanut lime dressing. I’m just loving all the cold crunchy vegetables and the light and airy rice noodles in this bowl. As always, I’ve got some substitution options for these Peanut Tofu Noodle Bowls below, so make sure to keep reading!
I love rice noodles for this bowl because they’re super light and they taste great cold. I used a vermicelli style rice noodle because that was what was available at the store, but a slightly wider noodle would probably work best (wider noodles tangle less).
If you don’t have rice noodles available or want a less expensive option, these bowls are very similar to my Cold Peanut Noodle Salad, which uses whole what spaghetti, so I think that could also work here.
A third option is to serve these bowls over rice in stead of noodles. Jasmine rice would be my pick!
A fourth option is to serve this like a salad over shredded cabbage or lettuce.
Sure! I think both chicken and shrimp would also go great in this bowl. For chicken, just cube it up and sauté in oil until cooked through. You could even toss it in a little bit of the peanut dressing, making sure to save some for the rest of the bowls. For shrimp, just make sure they’re peeled and tails removed, then sauté in oil over medium until they’re opaque and pink (this only takes a few minutes).
I eat this bowl cold. When you make them fresh the noodles may still be slightly warm or room temperature, but they’ll be cool enough to not heat the rest of the ingredients. The tofu also cools very rapidly.
These bowls hold up pretty good in the fridge! The tofu doesn’t stay crispy, like any fried food, but it’s still tasty in the bowl. You can refrigerate these bowls, with the dressing kept separately, for about 4 days.
Start by pressing the tofu. This removes the excess moisture and takes about a half hour, so start with this first. Remove the tofu from its package and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Place something flat on top, like a cutting board or plate, then place something heavy on top of that. I use a cast iron skillet, but a pot of water also works. Let it press for about a half hour. You can see in the photo above all the water that came out.
While the tofu is pressing, make the peanut lime dressing. Add 3 Tbsp natural-style peanut butter, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 clove of garlic (minced), ½ tsp grated fresh ginger, 2 Tbsp lime juice, 2 tsp soy sauce, and ¼ cup neutral oil (anything light flavored) in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
You should also have time to prep the vegetables while the tofu presses. Slice one red bell pepper, one cucumber (depending on the size you may only need half), grate one carrot using a cheese grater, and pull about ½ bunch cilantro leaves from the stems.
After the tofu has pressed, transfer it to a cutting board and cut it into ½-inch cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl or shallow dish, then sprinkle with ¼ tsp salt and 2 Tbsp cornstarch. Gently toss the tofu until it is coated in cornstarch.
Heat 1 Tbsp cooking oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the tofu and cook until golden brown and crispy on all sides. Remove the tofu from the heat.
Lastly, cook the rice noodles. I used vermicelli, but if you can find a slightly wider rice noodle that may work better because they won’t tangle as much. I used one 8 oz. package of rice noodles.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the noodles and boil for about three minutes, or the recommended time on the package. Drain the rice noodles in a colander and rise briefly with cool water. Let them drain well.
Now it’s time to build the bowls! Place ¼ of the rice noodles in each bowl. Top with bell pepper, cucumber, carrot, and tofu.
Top the bowl with chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro.
And finally, drizzle that delicious peanut lime dressing over top of the peanut tofu noodle bowls when you’re ready to eat!