sunday cookin’: spicy & sour zucchini stir-fry

(okay, i’m aware it’s not sunday this time, but i hope this brings a bit of that sunday feeling to your day!)

last summer, we started getting loads of zucchinis in our csa share box “bedynka”, as it’s called here in czechland. they are definitely not one of my favorites, in fact, they induced a few groans to see them week after week. alex was pretty happy, having no problem with this vegetable, because i would never buy them before.

so i thought: how can i make these as appetizing as possible? answer: sauté

them in soy sauce and some other delicious ingredients and serve with asian-style noodles. so, i ended up creating this recipe that we have made at least every two weeks in this household for the past year. in fact, it is so good that i’ve been buying zucchinis year-round just so we can make it! (alex calls it the “dump truck meal” because he wishes he had a dump truck to just shovel it into is mouth. yep.)

sometimes i don’t share these super every day things like this on the blog becomes it seems too boring and ordinary for me, but perhaps you might like to hear about it… and maybe even make it yourself! you can also substitute the zucchini for another vegetable that you are having trouble liking because it certainly does the trick! it’s a great way to eat your greens.

spicy & sour zucchini noodle stir-fry

serves 3, total prep and cooking time: approx. 30 min

you’ll need…
coconut oil, for cooking
1 small/medium zucchini
3 medium carrots
180g package of firm tofu
250g chinese egg-noodles, or your favorites
2 cloves garlic, roughly minced
optional vegetables: green onions, a handful of dark leafy greens, any you like
sea salt, to taste
soy sauce, to taste
rice vinegar, to taste
chili flakes, to taste
olive oil, to taste.

1. remove block of tofu from package and press it to remove excess liquid. slice into small “dominoes” and fry on low/medium in a bit of coconut oil*. sprinkle with a bit of salt. continue cooking until almost every side is crispier and turns a yellow hue.

2. while you have them cooking, put a large pot of water on to boil and begin slicing zucchini into extra thin rounds, eventually cut those in half so it looks like a “half moon” shape.

3. once tofu is finished, set aside, turn to low heat, add a bit more oil to the pan, and add the zucchini half-moons. add at least a tablespoon of soy sauce, a healthy splash of vinegar, and a sprinkle of the chili flakes on top and stir from time to time to make sure flavor coats all of the pieces.

4. use a vegetable peeler to make thin strips of carrots and throw them in the pan as they are finished. (this is also the time to add in any other vegetables you fancy in a stir-fry, as mentioned above – the sky’s the limit!) this time, i used two green onions (sliced in large chunks) and a handful of greens (sliced).

5.  this is a good time to add the noodles to the boiling water, cook as instructed on the package. slice the garlic thinly (then again into rough diced pieces) and add to the vegetables. continue adding the soy sauce, vinegar, and chili flakes as you see fit to flavor the vegetables. (when you add one, always add the other two so the salty and sour flavors are pretty equal)

6. after cooking and draining the noodles, add immediately into the pan (still on low heat) with a healthy glug each of soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil and flakes*. this is the only seasoning for the noodles, so keep adding a bit more soy and vinegar until you feel they are flavored enough for you. stir around the ingredients into the noodles so they flavor it a bit more.

7. add the fried tofu pieces on top right before serving onto individual plates.

* i recommend using coconut oil for any frying pan cooking over low heat because it has a high smoke point compared to olive oil (which does not) meaning the oil can break down under high heat to create free radicals, carcinogens, and other generally nasty-for-your-health things.
** a note on the chili flakes – they are added to taste. my personal preference is: if you really notice the flakes when you look at the dish in the pan, you’ve added too much – best to add a little and taste as you go.

what’s your favorite go-to weeknight meal? (if you liked, don’t forget to bookmark or pin!)

ps, other recipes from adventurings: ukranian-style borscht & lentil-tempeh tacos