(Grocery Store) Peanut Sesame Noodles

The idea for this meal is a complete ripoff from my friend Paul (careful, it’s uber geeky over there), who mentioned that he made the exact same meal a couple of days prior – asparagus and snow peas with peanut sauce, over noodles. I haven’t made a stir-fry in a long time, because I got tired of the same-old same-old for sauces. A peanut sauce had never occurred to me, but since I am going through a peanut butter phase right now it immediately lodged in my brain and there was no turning back.

A quick perusal of the indexes of a couple of cookbooks led to disappointment, but I looked in my giant Gourmet cookbook anyway, even though my overall impression of it is “OMG so complicated and so many expensive ingredients.” This, however was an exception. Much like the white cake that the test kitchen developed as ammunition in the war against boxed cake mix, this recipe seems to have been developed for folks who don’t have easy access to ethnic grocery stores. (Which, oddly, I do not.) In fact had nearly everything for the sauce on hand already. As they say in the notes about the recipe, you can find a more authentic recipe, but I found this to be delicious.

The dressing is provided exactly as the recipe is written, but I changed the rest of it to suit myself.

½ cup smooth peanut butter
¼ cup soy sauce (you do buy the low sodium, right?)
1/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons chopped, peeled fresh ginger (or 2 tablespoons dry if you forget to get the fresh)
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. (This makes roughly 1 1/3 cups of sauce.)

For the rest of my dinner, I (over)cooked about 3 ounces of “Chinese Noodles” (I swear that’s what it says on the packaging – the ethnic foods section at my SuperFresh leaves much to be desired, I should have gone to the Giant but I wasn’t thinking). You can substitute spaghetti or thin linguine, etc.

I didn’t cook the vegetables at all, I just chopped them up – a few stalks of asparagus, a big handfull of snow peas, and a little less than half of a smallish diced red pepper. ($2.99 a pound?!) Since I wanted this to be an all-inclusive meal (as written it’s for a side dish or party dish) I threw in some cooked shrimp, which was a fantastic idea. A nice addition to this would be scallions if you have them. (I did not.) The recipe also calls for shaking on some sesame seeds, which I intended to do but forgot becaue that part of the instruction was over in the second column of the recipe, and everything for the sauce was in the first. I am nothing if not focused.

I tossed it all together in bowl with about a third of a cup of the sauce (this is where not overcooking your noodles helps). The fresh veggies brought a lot of crunch to the dish, and the sauce was great – a little bit sweet, with a slightly spicy finish in the back of your throat. As I said, the shrimp was a fantastic idea – the sweetness of the sauce really highlighted the salty/savory of the shrimp, which was a delicious combination. Some fried tofu would also work well as the protein, especially if you can somehow get it to be a little bit salty/savory. (Don’t look at me. Or would tempeh work? I have have this idea that it is more savory than tofu, but that is based on nothing.)

I enjoyed this for dinner and again for a lunch, but for some reason it completely lots it’s appeal to me after those two meals. I still have some sauce left, and I’m hoping it’ll keep for another week or so until I’m interested in eating it again.