Monday, July 27, 2009

Peanut picnic noodles

This has been an unusually cool summer, with really pleasant evenings and occasional days that hover merely in the 80s--some days it has really felt more like October or early spring around here. Good summer weather has facilitated a couple of dinnertime picnics which are a nice change from the usual retreat into air conditioning that normally goes with July in Georgia. These peanut noodles are perfect picnic fare--they make a delicious vegetarian dinner but are easily modified for carnivores with slices of grilled chicken on top.Mince up 2 cloves garlic and a chunk of fresh ginger (however much you like--I think I used about a 2" piece).Combine the garlic and ginger with 3/4 cup of peanut butter, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon minced cilantro, 1/3 cup tamari, a teaspoon red pepper flakes and 1/2 cup hot water. Purée this all together with an immersion blender, or a regular blender or a food processor or whatever. You can probably do it by hand too, although I have never tried that. Add a little more hot water if the mixture is too thick to blend into a smooth paste. Taste it and see if it needs tweaking--I think I ended up adding a little more peanut butter and tamari to mine, and probably a dash more red pepper because I like it hot. So feel free to play with the amounts of ingredients in the sauce, is what I'm saying. After you like the balance, squeeze in some lime juice and/or a splash of rice wine vinegar, blend and then taste again until it is perfect.Get some noodles ready to meet this fine peanut sauce--I used these dried udon but linguine or any other flat, thicker pasta will work fine. Boil them up al dente and when they're ready, drain and toss with a little sesame oil so they don't get sticky. Then toss together while still hot with your peanut sauce mixture. Meanwhile, make a quick, tangy vegetable topping for your noodles. It's a great contrast to the super unctous peanut sauce. Slice up 2-3 carrots on a mandoline into thin ribbons(if you lack a mandoline just use a sharp knife and your skills of precision).Do the same with a cucumber...Toss these veggies together with 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, a pinch of salt and minced cilantro or parsley. Let them chill out and marinate while you finish other things but not for longer than about 30 minutes or so--you want them to stay crunchy.If you're making this salad for non-vegetarians, go ahead and grill some chicken breasts to slice up and top the noodles (I marinated mine in lime juice beforehand). Tofu would be good too--chunks of the teriyaki flavored, pressed tofu from Trader Joes tossed together in this would be AWESOME.To assemble your salad, lay the strips of chicken (if using) on top of a tangle of peanut sauce dressed noodles, plus a healthy toppping of the carrots and cucumber. Reserve some minced cilantro and sesame seeds to sprinkle over everything at the very last minute.Sadly, I actually i don't have a great picture of the final product, but here it is all packed up to take along on a picnic:

1 comment:

sara said...

Perfect timing. I'm off to a picnic on the beach Sunday night. Can't wait to try it.