There is nothing I love to eat more than a bowl of saucy noodles, whether it's spaghetti with tomato sauce, tangy vietnamese-style rice noodles, or takeout lo-mein. Noodles are simply the perfect food. I will never say no to a creamy, nut-based sauce (hello, peanut sauce and tahini dressing!) and learned roasted sunflower seeds can be a source of umami in vegetarian and vegan dishes in a test kitchen years ago. Here, spicy roasted sunflower seeds turn into the base of our sauce as well as provide a crunchy topping. Blend into a smooth puree with some flavor boosters like miso, rice vinegar, soy sauce or tamari, and sriracha and you're well on your way to creating an amazing sauce that makes extra! Use it throughout the week to add a richness to your lunches or perk up roasted veggies. To really drive home the sunflower theme, I like to use sunflower sprouts, and sunflower oil to showcase how amazing this flower is and how versatile it can be. Need to keep this dish gluten-free? Use buckwheat soba noodles, gluten-free miso, and tamari.
For the Spicy Sunflower Seeds
- 1 1/ 2 cups raw shelled sunflower seeds
- 1 tablespoon sunflower or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder or paprika
- 3/ 4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/ 2 teaspoon garlic powder
For the Quick-Pickled Daikon
- 1 small daikon radish, carrot, or cucumber, thinly sliced
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar, honey, or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon furikake
Roast the Sunflower Seeds
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Toss sunflower seeds with sunflower oil, cayenne, garlic powder, and salt on a small baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Make the Quick-Pickled Daikon
Meanwhile, toss sliced daikon with sliced scallions, rice vinegar, sugar, and furikake seasoning to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the Spicy Sunflower Sauce
Add 1 cup spicy sunflower seeds to a high-speed blender with water, rice vinegar, miso, soy sauce, sriracha, and sugar. Puree on high until very smooth and a thick but pourable consistency. Set aside until ready to use.
Cook the Noodles
Cook udon or soba noodles according to package directions, then drain well. Toss noodles about 3/4 cup spicy sunflower sauce, then serve into bowls. Noodles can be served hot or at room temperature.
Arrange chilled daikon, hard-boiled egg, sprouts, a sprinkle of spicy sunflower seeds, and sliced scallions over noodles. Season egg and garnish bowl with extra furikake seasoning. Drizzle with extra sauce, if desired.