Growing up, noodles used to be an absolute favorite dish of mine maybe because we used to get it so rarely. Ready-to-cook noodles were not available in local mom and pop stores. When we made our occasional trip to the large supermarket, amma used to pickup wheat noodles. She would make a very simple dish with noodles tossed in just soya sauce and topped with peanuts. It had cabbage and probably carrots. I used to love this dish.
Later on with the global market opening up, we got the very famous 2-minutes noodles hit every household. It was heaven on earth 😇 I could make my own noodles, of course it did not taste anything like Amma’s! Decades later we realized it was packed with MSG and a plethora of chemicals. Thank god we survived eating them ! 😱
Here we are today with a bountiful of noodles variety available in the market. Some of our favorites include whole wheat noodles, brown rice noodles, quinoa noodles and millet noodles. Today this recipe uses brown rice noodles. This makes it naturally gluten-free. While all my recipes are vegetarian, this one is also vegan.
While recreating my memory of the simple straightforward noodles, I set out to use red cabbage and bring in mushrooms for the meatiness. The shape of noodles used here is slightly flat which makes it a good combination with cabbage. The cabbage is kept crisp and adds to the texture of the dish.
Lets talk about Harissa. Harissa is a condiment used in parts of north Africa. Our love for Ethiopian food, introduced us to savor Harissa. It was definitely love at first ‘taste’ ! Harissa combines red chilly peppers, usually smoked with garlic, cumin and coriander, probably mint and few other spices. It can pack a punch and a small amount goes a long way ! Harissa is readily available in stores, but can also be prepared at home.
When I cook noodles or pasta, which essentially brings a big pot of water to boil, I try to cook several different boxes one after the other. Let them drain and cool and store them in the freezer. This step helps when we are short on time on a weekday night. Pull out cooked frozen noodles and while it is thawing in the microwave, sitrfry the veggies and dinner is served in a jiffy !
Now on to the recipe, cook the brown rice noodles as per box directions, drain and set aside. I usually drizzle sesame oil on the noodles and toss to coat while it is sitting. This ensures the noodles don’t dry out. To the noodles add the sesame paste and sriracha for heat. Toss well. Done ! There is really nothing else needed for the noodles. Season well with salt if not done while cooking the noodles.
Next take a big wok and heat sesame oil to high temperature. I like to use sesame oil for most Asian preparations, the flavor reminds me of home as a small girl growing up. Stirfry red onions and then add the sliced mushrooms, tossing it. Add the shredded red cabbage and fry at high temperature. A nice roasting aroma will emanate. Turn off the stove and add the Harissa paste and toss very well to coat evenly. The veggie topping is ready.
To serve, take a large serving dish. Layer the noodles covering the entire bottom. Scoop out the center to form a slight depression. Arrange the Harissa cabbage in the middle. Sprinkle some crushed peanuts and dress with chopped mint leaves. Serve with lots of fresh cut veggies such as cucumbers, this adds a nice fresh element.
Its time to slurp the noodles !
Harissa vegetables with sesame noodles recipe
- Brown rice noodles (I used 4 servings)
- Sesame paste 2 tbsps
- Sesame oil 2 tbsps
Veggie layer –
- Harissa paste 2 tbsps
- Tamarind paste 1/2 tsp
- Red cabbage – sliced long strips 2 cups
- Shredded carrots 1/2 cup
- Sliced mushrooms 1/2 cup
- Red onions – sliced thin 1/2 cup
- Sesame oil 2 tbsps
- Mint leaves
- Sliced cucumbers to serve
- Take a small mixing bowl and mix the sesame oil and sesame paste very well, season with salt (Optionally add 1 tsp of sriracha if spice is preferred in the noodles)
- Cook the noodles as per package directions, drain completely
- In a large mixing bowl, take the noodles and add the sesame paste dressing prepared in step 1. Toss very well to coat. Check for salt and season as needed.
- Take a small mixing bowl and combine the harissa with tamarind paste and mint leaves, set aside
- Next heat up a wok at high temperature. Add sesame oil
- First toss the red onions, next add mushrooms and toss
- Next add the carrots and red cabbage and toss for 2-3 minutes keeping it crisp. Nice aroma of frying will emanate
- Turn off the stove and add the harissa dressing and coat the veggies evenly. Season with salt
- To serve, take a large serving dish and spread the noodles on the bottom
- Next scoop out the center and arrange the harissa cabbage
- Sprinkle crushed nuts, serve with chopped cucumber slices