Food & Drink

Easy Healthy Lunch Boxes from Julia Turshen: Soba Noodles with Shredded Red Cabbage + Sesame

by Grace Bonney


All week long to celebrate her brand new cookbook, Small Victories, Julia will be joining us for quick, delicious and healthy back-to-school recipes that you can easily make and pack for your loved ones, big and small. Click herehere and here check out previous menus and don’t forget to enter the big giveaway here!

These garlicky green beans with crispy tofu, a vegetarian riff on the Green Beans with Pork, Ginger + Red Chile from Small Victories, are all about the patience of letting things brown in a pan. By not stirring the green beans a million times or flipping the tofu over and over, you end up with ever-so-slightly charred vegetables and tofu with the most addictive, browned crust. The soba noodle salad, which is half soba and half cabbage, is the perfect lunch box food since the dressing keeps it from drying out.

If you missed any of Julia’s lunch box ideas from this week, check them out here: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.


Garlicky Green Beans + Crispy Tofu
Soba Noodles with Shredded Red Cabbage + Sesame

Garlicky Green Beans + Crispy Tofu
Serves 4

One 14 oz/397 g box extra-firm tofu
Neutral oil (such as canola or vegetable oil)
¾ pound/340 g green beans, ends trimmed
Kosher salt
Half a small red onion, very thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper

Place the tofu between a double layer of paper towels and put something flat and heavy on top, like a large cast iron frying pan. Let the tofu sit under this weight while you deal with your green beans.

Place a large nonstick skillet over high heat and add a tablespoon of oil to it. Once the oil is smoking hot, add the green beans. Cook the green beans, stirring now and then (but really only now and then and don’t mess with them too much), until they’re charred in spots and just tender, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the green beans with a large pinch of salt and add the onions and garlic and cook just until the onions begin to wilt, just a minute. Transfer the green beans to a large bowl and set them aside. Reserve the skillet.

Cut the tofu into whatever size pieces you like, keeping in mind that the larger the pieces, the less pieces you will have to turn to get all sides to brown once they’re in the skillet.

Wipe out the skillet and return it to high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to it and once the oil is smoking hot, add the tofu pieces in an even layer (be sure to leave a little space around each piece and work in batches if necessary, depending on the size of your skillet). Season the tofu aggressively with salt and cook until the undersides of each piece are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn each piece and continue cooking, and turning, until all the sides are browned and crispy.

Once the tofu is browned and crisp, return the green beans to the pan. Drizzle the soy sauce over the tofu and green beans and stir well to combine. Season the tofu and green beans to taste with additional salt if necessary and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Soba Noodles with Shredded Red Cabbage + Sesame
Serves 4

Kosher salt
8 oz/227 g 100% buckwheat soba noodles
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups (¾ pound/330 g) thinly sliced red cabbage
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (or a sesame seed condiment like furikake, Eden Shake or Gomasio)

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the soba and cook, stirring now and then, until it is tender, about 5 minutes (consult the timing on whatever brand of soba you purchase). Drain the soba, rinse under cold running water, and transfer to a layer of paper towels or a clean kitchen towel to dry off a little.

Meanwhile, place the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and olive oil in a large bowl and whisk together. Season the dressing to taste with salt and add the cabbage and use your hands to really scrunch the dressing into the cabbage to soften the cabbage slightly. Add the reserved soba to the bowl along with the sesame seeds and stir well to combine. Serve immediately or store in a covered container for up to a few days in the refrigerator (it’s best to bring it to room temperature before eating, though).

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