Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Oodles of Peanutty Noodles

I tend to gravitate towards recipes that closely resemble the ones I already have. In my current recipe collection, I have at least five varieties of Asian noodle dishes (not counting stir fry). One of those, sesame noodles, is a standby for my mom, and it's become an easy weeknight meal for me by adding chicken. The others are going to be deleted today because last night I discovered my new favorite version of peanut noodles.

A few months ago I recreated a recipe for Sczechuan Noodles that I watched Ina Garten make on "Barefoot Contessa." Davy and I ended up eating them for way too long, and there was something about the sauce that was too creamy and rich. The vegetables were heavily coated, and all of the ingredients become condensed in the gelatinous dressing.

The new "Peanutty Noodles" (I'm not sure where the recipe is from) contain enough vegetables to stand up to the sauce, which ties, rather than glues, everything together. The recipe is below, but we ended up making several modifications, minus the suggestion to take a team approach to cooking. Davy and I were able to prepare the ingredients in less than half the time it would have taken one person.

Ukrops' snow peas were no good, and red peppers were $2.29 apiece, so we got a pound of green beans instead. Last week I sauteed red cabbage with a little vegetable oil and soy sauce, so we substituted those leftovers for the red pepper.

We started by browning a pound of chicken tenders with vegetable and sesame oils over medium high heat. When they were close to being cooked through, I threw in a large clove of chopped garlic, lime juice and a little of the chili garlic sauce we bought for the recipe. With the additions, the chicken turned a lovely reddish color before I removed it from the pan. The garlic and chili sauce, however, remained so I could use all of the flavor from the chicken to saute the vegetables.

With the sauce simmering and water heating in a large pot for the linguine, I tossed the green beans until they started to get tender. I took the pan off the heat and stirred in the leftover cabbage and grated carrot. I should have taken a picture at this point, because the colors were vibrant and not a frequently seen combination in food. We poured everything into a large bowl, including more lime juice, and (carefully) tossed it until the chicken was evenly distributed.

These noodles work so well because none of the flavors overpower the others. The pasta is subtly coated by the sauce, and so far nothing has congealed. It's also an easy recipe to modify - an important quality because it really does make ten servings, and I probably should've halved the ingredients. Now that I think about it, "Peanutty Noodles" may not be in my recipe folder by the end of the week...

Peanutty Noodles

This dish comes together quickly when one person prepares the sauce
while another sautés the vegetables. Break the pasta in half before cooking to make serving easier. These noodles complement the pork perfectly, but they also become their own main dish when you add cooked shrimp or chicken.


2 carrots, peeled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup natural-style peanut butter (such as Smucker's)

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons rice or white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

2 cups red bell pepper strips

1 pound snow peas, trimmed

8 cups hot cooked linguine (about 1 pound uncooked pasta)

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Shave the carrots lengthwise into thin strips using a vegetable
peeler, and set aside. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger and minced garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and the next 5 ingredients (broth through salt); stir until well-blended. Reduce heat, and simmer 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and keep warm.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking
spray over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and snow peas; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat. Combine carrot, peanut butter mixture, bell pepper mixture, and linguine in a large bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield 10 servings (serving size: 1 cup)