Sweet Potato Noodles with Tofu Coconut Curry is a gluten-free, vegan meal perfect for make-ahead lunches or weeknight dinner. Healthy and hearty, this vegetarian recipe comes together in one pan.
Sweet Potato Noodles with Tofu
This recipe hits every note on the sweet, spicy, and savory spectrum. It's brimming with bright Thai flavor, a kick of spice, and lots of umami. Plus, it's packed with fiber, plant-based protein, and phytonutrients. Oh, and did I mention it's both weeknight-approved and make-ahead friendly?
A lot of readers have been messaging me about the desire to cook more plant-based meals in 2020. (Which, obviously, thrills my plant-lovin' soul.) With that in mind, my goal is to keep sharing recipes that really highlight the versatility of plant protein. For example, beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, and edamame. If there is anything specifically you want to see more of, please comment on this recipe post and let me know!
Though for now, I'm bringing you one of my new favorite veg-on-veg meals that I can't wait for you to try. It holds up incredibly well for leftovers, which obviously means I've been eating it all week. (And I'm not even remotely tired of it yet!)
Sweet Potato Pasta: How to Make
First, let's discuss how to make sweet potato noodles. You COULD use a julienne peeler, however I suggest using a spiralizer for easy, even noodles. In terms of brands, I recommend the Inspiralizer, which comes with four different size blades. It also comes with vacuum base counter clamps, which help it stay steady on the countertop. It's the only spiralizer I use these days, and can't recommend it enough.
You'll want to peel the sweet potatoes prior to spiralizing them. Although the skin contains fiber, it can taste a bit earthy, which can throw off the flavor of this dish. Once you have your strands of noodles, it's time to cook them. Surprisingly, sweet potato noodles can become pretty tender (similar in texture to al dente pasta) after being sautéed. I suggest cooking them in a large skillet with a lid attachment so you can cover them halfway through. This helps create steam in the pan, which expedites the cooking process.
Just be sure to check on the noodles every few minutes so you don't overcook them. Once they soften, they run the risk of breaking, which takes all the fun out of fork twirling. Plus, they will cook again for a few more minutes at the end, so it's OK if they're still a tad tough.
How do You Make Crispy Tofu
In my opinion, the best tofu is CRISPY tofu. Otherwise, tofu has a spongy texture that may be hard to win over a crowd with. And luckily, achieving those coveted, crispy cubes is easier than you may think. Here are a few of my tricks:
- Purchase extra-firm or super-firm blocks of tofu. Anything else will have too much moisture to achieve optimal crispiness. My favorite is the vacuum-sealed packs of super-firm tofu at Trader Joe's.
- Be sure to drain the water and press as much moisture out as possible before cooking. I typically slice the tofu into 5 even slabs and then use a kitchen towel to thoroughly press each slab. Remember, LESS water = MORE crisp.
- Use a nonstick pan for cooking. Tofu has a tendency to latch onto pans, therefore using a nonstick will help better set you up for success when it comes to sautéing. One of my favorite (inexpensive) nonstick skillets is linked here.
- Avoid over-crowding the pan! Each cube should have ample space to brown without rubbing against one another. This will help prevent them from sticking together and steaming, as opposed to browning.
Once you have this method down, cooking tofu is about as easy as it gets. It's one of my go-to proteins to cook at home because of how cheap and versatile it is. After you try this recipe, be sure to try some of my other favorites, like this 30 Minute Black Pepper Tofu recipe.
Thai Coconut Sauce
This sauce leans on a couple shortcut ingredients that deliver BIG flavor. One is Thai Red Curry Paste, which is an authentic blend of aromatic spices. For example, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and peppers, and kaffir lime. It's a staple in my kitchen for creating quick sauces and marinades. Another is lemongrass paste, which is a concentrated dose of, you guessed it, lemongrass! Fresh lemongrass can be tricky to find and intimidating to use, so I find the paste SO useful. You can typically find lemongrass paste in the produce section by the fresh herbs, or in the international aisle. Alternatively, if you live near an Asian market, they always carry it (and for a much lower price than most grocery stores).
If you can't find either ingredient, there are simple substitutions. In place of the curry paste, you can use a mix of ground curry powder, fresh garlic, and lime zest. And in place of the lemongrass paste, just increase the amount of fresh ginger. (Note: I love the flavor and spice of fresh ginger, so I used 2 teaspoons in the sauce. If you are spice adverse, however, just use one.)I hope you give this deliciously flavorful recipe a try for make-ahead lunches or weeknight dinner. And if you do, be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth so I can see your beautiful creations.
More Spiralized Vegetarian Recipes to Try
Sweet Potato Noodles with Tofu Coconut Curry
- 4 medium sweet potatoes peeled
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil divided
- 1 14-oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into cubes
- ¾ tsp. salt divided
- ½ tsp. black pepper
- 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 medium shallot thinly sliced
- 2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
- 1 Tbsp. lemongrass paste
- 1-2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- 2 Tbsp. lower-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 13.5-oz. can lite coconut milk
- Juice of 1 lime
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves
- Slice sweet potatoes in half and and cut the pointy tips off. Place in a spiralizer and spiralize into noodles.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add sweet potato noodles and cook 2 minutes, tossing often. Add 2 to 3 Tbsp. water to create steam in the pan, cover, and cook 5 more minutes, lifting lid occasionally to toss, until tender. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt, and transfer to a bowl.
- Add 1 Tbsp. oil to the pan and increase heat to medium-high. Add tofu, and season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook 7 to 8 minutes, turning to brown all sides, until golden and crisp. Transfer to bowl with sweet potato noodles, and reduce heat to medium.
- Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to pan, along with bell pepper and shallots. Cook 3 minutes, until pepper starts to soften. Add red curry paste, lemongrass paste, ginger, and remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper; Cook 2 minutes. Add spinach and soy sauce; cook 1 minute, stirring often, until spinach is wilted. Stir in coconut milk.
- Add sweet potato noodles and tofu back to pan. Simmer 4 to 5 minutes, tossing often, until sauce thickens and begins coating noodles. Stir in fresh lime juice and garnish with cilantro.