I’m terrible about lunches.
Half the time, I end up eating some augmented instant ramen, whisking in sesame oil and fresh ginger to boiling water, plopping a few faux chicken broth cubes in with the whole mix. Poaching an egg, maybe, and leaving it at that. At least I throw out the little foil packet of God-knows-what.. aren’t you proud?
Or foraging for leftovers, wondering if it’s actually nutritionally acceptable to eat couscous as your side dish to pizza. But what else do I have?!
Enter the peanut spinach udon. Not only does the dish come together quickly, but it makes use of mostly pantry staples (at least in our house!), meaning I can keep the organization and general planning ahead to a minimum. We usually have fresh spinach or kale on hand, since we love-love-love leaves and throw reckless handfuls into our smoothies each morning. Green onions are usually around, too, since they’re cheap and make the perfectly mildly oniony garnish.
OK, so, it’s quick; it’s easy. Who cares? It’s delicious.
Something about the combination of creamy peanut butter and salty soy sauce, a touch of sweetness and the added depth of sesame oil makes this a standout lunch or light dinner. And versatile, too! You can make a big ol’ batch and nosh on the noodles cold throughout the rest of the week. You’ll fall in love with the nutty sauce, the tender baby spinach leaves, the satisfying udon noodles. It’s filling but not heavy, mostly healthy, and totally vegan. To make this gluten-free, you can replace the udon with soba noodles (make sure they’re 100% buckwheat, and don’t be deterred by the name – buckwheat is not actually wheat and is gluten-free!). Pretty useful, right?
Make this. Get it into your lunch rotation; free the leftovers!
Peanut Spinach Udon (Vegan)
- 1 bundle udon (or 1 serving soba, about 76 grams)
- 1 1/2 cups baby spinach
- 2 green onions , sliced thin, divided
- 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 or more tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 small clove garlic , minced very fine
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon agave nectar (or honey, if not vegan)
- dollop sambal oelek (chile-garlic sauce. optional)
- black sesame seeds , for garnish
- Cook the udon noodles according to package directions.
- Meanwhile, prep your spinach: start with 1 1/2 cups baby spinach; chop. Make your sauce. Whisk together all sauce ingredients, taste, and correct seasonings to taste.
- When pasta is finished cooking, drain and rinse out pot too cool. Place chopped spinach and all but a pinch of the green onions in the pot and place hot noodles on top. Let sit for about 3 minutes then pour sauce over noodles and toss to combine and coat. Add extra soy sauce, if desired. Garnish with remaining pinch of green onions and black sesame seeds.
Adapted from Naturally Ella.