I guarantee, once you’ve tried making this easy soba noodle recipe, it is going to become a weekly favourite in your household! These soba noodles are super healthy, take only 10 minutes to make and the kids love them so they think it’s a treat to have them in their lunch boxes! And did I mention that they’re gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan too? This is the kind of quick and easy recipe everyone needs for days when you don’t have time to cook!
As with my vegan sushi bowl recipe, this is an adaptable and tasty alternative to the standard lunch-box sandwich and your family will love it!
Why you will love this recipe!
- It is SO quick and easy to make (10 minutes max!)
- You can eat them hot or cold and they transport well making them great for vegan lunchboxes or picnics.
- You can make them in advance and leave them in the fridge to portion out each day.
- They are gluten-free (make sure to buy the 100% buckwheat soba noodles), nut-free and vegan.
You know that panic feeling just after putting the kids to bed when you realise you haven’t planned what they’re having in their school lunch box the next day?
I used to get that a lot, until I discovered that my kids love soba noodles and they only take 5 minutes to cook! So, with a little chopping of broccoli and tofu to accompany the noodles and a quick dressing (mixed together in seconds), this recipe can be a real life saver on busy school nights!
What are soba noodles?
Soba noodles are a Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour. They are brown in colour and long like spaghetti but slightly flattened, with a slightly nutty wholesome flavour. They are usually sold in packets often portioned out into little bundles, each wrapped in a little paper ring.
Are soba noodles gluten-free?
Despite having the word “wheat” in the name, buckwheat is not at all related to wheat and is naturally gluten-free. Soba noodles are traditionally made from just buckwheat flour (“soba” translates to buckwheat in Japanese). However, many brands nowadays add wheat flour and other additives (to make them less fragile and cheaper to produce) so you need to check the label carefully to ensure that the ones you buy are 100% buckwheat flour.
How are soba noodles served in Japan?
In Japan, soba noodles are often served either hot in a broth-like soup, or cold with a dipping sauce to dip them into. This recipe is a convenient lunch box version of the cold Japanese soba noodles.
Since the kids would make an awful mess dipping each mouthful of their soba noodles into a sauce, I like to “pre-mix” the noodles with the sauce instead. However, if you’d rather be more authentic, then you could serve the dressing on the side and dip each mouthful of noodles into it as you eat them.
Apart from being gluten-free, soba noodles are a great high quality protein noodle. They contain a higher proportion of the amino-acid lycein than regular wheat noodles or pasta so they are a good high quality protein option for those on a plant-based or vegan diet. (See this Healthline article on soba noodles for more information about this.)
- Soba noodles – when choosing soba noodles, you need to check the label carefully as some brands add wheat flour to the buckwheat. If you can’t eat gluten, then you need to find the 100% buckwheat soba noodles.
Not all GF soba noodles are the same and you need to try out a few to find the ones you like best. There is a vast difference between the different brands! I like the King Soba buckwheat soba noodles best because they hold their shape and elasticity and don’t break up when you mix them. Clearspring and Eden also offer 100% buckwheat soba noodles.
- Vegetables - Broccoli, Spring Onions and Seaweed - these work well in this dish for convenience, flavour, texture and variety of nutrients. Feel free to skip the broccoli if you can't be bothered to cook it! I use a seaweed and sesame mix called Furikake seasoning but you could also use just cut up pieces of nori seaweed sheets or any other seaweed sprinkle mix that you find in the supermarket.
- Silken Tofu - soft silken tofu has a delicious silky smooth fragile texture. It can be eaten straight from the pack so there is no cooking needed which is why I use it in this quick recipe. The texture is a bit of an acquired taste though so if you don't like that soft blancmange-like texture, then you could use crispy firm tofu instead (see this crispy chia tofu recipe for an example).
- Sesame Seeds - toasted sesame seeds add the most flavour but this requires a minute or so of quickly toasting in a small pan and of course results in an extra pan to wash so, in all honesty, I usually just use raw sesame seeds instead for this super quick recipe! Sesame seeds are full of calcium so they're great for those following a plant-based diet.
- Dressing – tamari, rice vinegar, sesame oil, brown rice syrup and fresh ginger. Tamari is a naturally gluten-free soy sauce alternative. You could also use gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos instead.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this blog post for quantities of ingredients.
These are so easy to make!
- Boil the soba noodles for 5-6 minutes (follow the packet instructions) and throw in the broccoli florets for the last 3 minutes.
- Drain the noodles and broccoli and run under a cold tap to rinse off the cooking water then plunge into a bowl of iced water to stop the cooking and prevent the noodles sticking.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a jug. Drain the noodles and broccoli and add to the serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the noodles and broccoli, add the spring onions, and mix thoroughly.
- Portion into bowls (or lunch boxes) and add chopped silken tofu cubes on top.
- Sprinkle on the seaweed sprinkles and sesame seeds.
Please see the printable recipe card at the bottom of this blog post for full instructions.
- You need to cook the soba noodles in a big pan with plenty of boiling water so they have space to move about. Keep a close eye on them as they cook quickly (only about 5-6 minutes).
- The most important thing to remember is that you must rinse the soba noodles after cooking them. This is to wash away the starch. Otherwise, they go really stodgy and stick together in a big clump.
- For serving cold, it is best to plunge the noodles into a bowl of iced water after rinsing. This stops the cooking process and ensures your noodles stay perfectly al dente.
As I’ve already mentioned, this makes an excellent packed lunch or picnic as it is so transportable. It also pairs well with a Japanese style seaweed salad and a cup (or flask) of warming miso soup on the side.
For serving as a full meal at home, you could try serving the soba noodles warm and maybe switch the silken tofu for some crispy tofu pieces (see this amazing chia seed crispy tofu recipe for one option!) and swap the broccoli for a mix of stir-fried vegetables instead.
Nut-free vegan school lunches
I don’t know about you but I sometimes find it hard to do a plant-based lunchbox for my kids. Since their school campus is nut-free and my kids are not good at eating cold beans, it’s hard to find a good protein source to include in their lunchboxes. That’s why I absolutely love this recipe for school lunches because it provides a decent amount of plant-based protein in a tasty format that the kids all happily accept!
I will try to add more plant-based nut-free lunch box ideas on the blog as I think this is definitely an area that I struggle with so hopefully it can help anyone else struggling with it too!
Soba Noodle FAQs
Yes! They keep really well in a sealed container for 3-4 days in the fridge. In fact, I often make a big batch at the start of the week and then take portions for lunches over the next few days. These noodles don't freeze well though so it's best to just eat them within a few days of making them.
Sadly not! Although they are very healthy, if you are following a strict keto diet, then you will not be able to eat soba noodles due to their carbohydrate content. You could substitute for shirotaki noodles instead and use the same other ingredients to make a veto version.
📖 Recipe 📖
Quick Soba Noodles with a Ginger and Sesame Dressing
- 250 g soba noodles (100% buckwheat)
- 1 head of broccoli (about 190g) ends of the florets only
- 2-4 spring onions sliced thinly
- 75 g silken tofu cubed
- 4 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoon seaweed sprinkles or furikake seasoning
- 2 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoon brown rice syrup
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger finely grated
- Boil the soba noodles in water for 5-6 minutes, adding the broccoli florets for the final 3 minutes. Then drain and rinse under the tap in a colander. Plunge into a bowl of iced water and leave for a few minutes to stop the cooking.250 g soba noodles, 1 head of broccoli (about 190g)
- Meanwhile, whisk the dressing ingredients together in a little jug.2 tablespoon tamari, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 2 teaspoon brown rice syrup, 1 teaspoon fresh ginger
- Drain the soba noodles and broccoli and mix together with the dressing and the spring onions (saving a few for garnishing) in a large bowl.2-4 spring onions
- Portion out the soba noodles into bowls (or lunch boxes) then top with the tofu cubes, a few more sliced spring onions, the seaweed sprinkles (furikake seasoning) and sesame seeds.75 g silken tofu, 4 tablespoon sesame seeds, 2 tablespoon seaweed sprinkles or furikake seasoning
- Check the soba noodles packet carefully as many also have wheat flour in them. For gluten-free versions you need 100% buckwheat soba noodles.
- The brand of soba noodles you choose makes a big difference! I have found the King Soba noodles to be the best for holding their shape and being slightly elastic once cooked, rather than just breaking up into little pieces on stirring.
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a ⭐ star rating ⭐ on the recipe card!
More lunch box recipes
If you like this recipe, you may like these other delicious vegan and gluten-free lunch recipes too: