Buckwheat Soba with Miso, Squash, Smoked Tofu and Basil

Adapted from "Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven"
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 cups
One trip to the natural foods store should cover the entire shopping list for this unusual recipe, which combines the strong, fermented flavor of miso with pungent basil, smoked tofu, sweet squash and earthy buckwheat soba (Japanese noodles). Sprinkle the top with some lightly toasted pumpkin seeds for the perfect final touch.
  • Squash and pumpkin are interchangeable in this dish.
1 rounded tablespoon white or yellow miso
1 1/2 cups hot water
2 teaspoons vegetable or peanut oil
2 cups sliced onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cups peeled, chopped butternut squash or fresh pumpkin (about 1/2 pound)
1 cup smoked tofu, cut into strips (about 1/4 pound)
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 pound uncooked buckwheat soba
Red pepper flakes
Lightly toasted pumpkin seeds
  1. Combine the miso and hot water in a small bowl, and mash with a spoon until the miso is mostly dissolved. (It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth.) Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet or a sauté pan over medium-high heat. When it is very hot, add the onion, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the salt, cover, and cook for about 10 more minutes over medium heat. Stir in the squash, cover and cook for 10 minutes longer, or until the squash is tender. Meanwhile, put up a potful of water to boil for the soba.
  3. Stir the miso solution, tofu, and basil, into the sautéed onion and squash. Turn the heat way down, cover, and let it simmer very quietly while you cook the soba (5 to 8 minutes).
  4. When the noodles are done to your liking, drain them thoroughly, transfer to a serving bowl, and pour the vegetable-miso mixture over the top. Toss with chopsticks or a large fork, adding red pepper flakes to taste as you go. Sprinkle the top with pumpkin seeds, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
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