Seems like this is all I have energy to make for dinner on these hot, lazy summer days - something Asian, something cold, something mostly raw and doesn't require standing and stirring next to a hot stove - Vietnamese noodle salad.
For the tofu: Wrap a 16 oz cube extra-firm tofu in kitchen towels to soak up excess water. Cut it in 12 slices. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Marinade tofu slices in 1 tablespoon of tamari, 2 1/2 tablespoons of mirin, 1 teaspoon of minced ginger. Line baking tray with parchment paper and grease it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Coat each side of tofu with nutritional yeast and lay them on the baking tray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Flip and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until golden brown. (If you prefer other sources of protein, chicken breasts, shrimp, ground pork or beef all work really well.)
For the noodles: Boil the rice noodles of your choice according to instructions. Once they are cooked and still al dente, drain them in a colander and throw in a bunch of ice cubes to cool them off instantly. I used a Pad Thai noodle here. Okay, it is a white flour product, not what I would do everyday but it also just occupies a 1/4 of the bowl. Check out these purple rice noodles here and here.
For the veggies: I used bean sprouts, cucumbers, shredded carrots and red peppers. Finely shredded lettuce also goes really well with this dish. Throw in leftover veggies, sauted greens or anything you have on hand!
For the dressing: Combine 1/4 cup of lime juice, 2 Tablespoons of water, 1 Tablespoon of fish sauce, 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup, 1 small red chili pepper (optional) in a big bowl, stir well.
For the garnish: This is what makes this noodle dish so magical! I used fresh basil and mint leaves, but cilantro and scallions also work. Feel free to mix and match. Add crushed peanuts for the extra crunch!
Assembly: Add noodles, veggies, tofu, garnish in a large salad bowl. Toss in dressing and serve.