A perfect summer lunch recipe for the long weekend: Spicy udon noodles with tofu and watercress

Melanie Johnson shares a dish which makes the most of cress's peppery punch.

‘Cultivated in cool, clear streams, watercress tastes like the essence of spring,’ writes our kitchen garden cook Melanie Johnson.

Salads are the obvious place to use cress, but soup is surprisingly quick and easy too. Simply process two ripe avocados, one bunch of watercress, two spring onions and one clove of garlic with 750ml of vegetable stock and 100ml of coconut yoghurt. Season, add the juice of one lime, and it’s ready to go — and brightened up with extra watercress, chopped chives and edible flowers.

For a fancier summery lunch, the recipe below offers even more.

Recipe: Spicy udon noodles with miso-glazed tofu and watercress


Serves 4

  • Miso-glazed tofu
  • 2tbspn white miso
  • 1tbspn soy sauce
  • 1tbspn mirin
  • 1tbspn maple syrup (or honey)
  • 300g firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • Spicy sauce
  • 3tbspn soy sauce
  • 2tbspn sesame oil
  • 2tbspn rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 red chilli, finely diced
  • 1tbspn freshly grated ginger
  • 2tbspn maple syrup
  • 150g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g mangetouts
  • 2 baby courgettes, thinly sliced
  • A handful pointed cabbage, shredded
  • 200g udon noodles, cooked as per packet instructions
  • 80g watercress

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To serve

  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Spring onions, sliced
  • Fresh coriander


Whisk together the white miso, soy sauce, mirin and maple syrup and pour over the tofu pieces. Leave to marinate for an hour and then fry in a neutral oil until golden all over. Set aside.

Make the spicy sauce by simply whisking together the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, chilli, ginger and maple syrup. Set aside.

To the same pan, add a splash of neutral oil if needed (sesame can be overpowering if used too heavily in a dish), then fry the shiitake mushroom slices until they’ve released their liquid, followed by the mangetouts, courgettes, and shredded cabbage. Stir-fry until they’re slightly tender, but retaining a bite and their vibrance, and then add the cooked udon noodles.

Pour the spicy sauce over the noodles and mix everything together to coat them evenly.

Return the tofu to the pan, gently warming everything, and stir through the watercress to slightly wilt it.

To serve, sprinkle the noodles with toasted sesame seeds, sliced spring onions and fresh coriander.