Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ye olde favorite

There are certain ingredients -- and words -- that attract me to every recipe in which they're found. Peanuts. "Spicy." Mint. Chickpeas. Peanut Butter. "Thai." Rigatoni. Pistachios. Cumin. Extra-firm tofu. Kalamata olives. Walnuts. Meyer lemons. This is how I end up with several different iterations of rigatoni with pistachios and Meyer lemons, and more than a dozen recipes for noodles with a spicy peanut sauce. For as much as I want to branch out, ye olde favorite foodstuffs just keep pulling me right back in.

Today I share with you one of those dozen-plus recipes that involve noodles, Asian flavors and peanuts. To me, there are few foods that pair better than noodles and peanut. Maybe tofu and peanut is a close second, but I don't know. (This is -- of course -- discounting chocolate, which is clearly the most divine partner the peanut could ever have. But I am trying to be "healthy" here, so bear with me.) There is something magical about the way an al dente noodle cozies up next to a crunchy, earthy peanut. It is extraordinarily fun to chase around the peanuts, one by one, with chopsticks, like Mr. Miyagi catching flies only the peanuts are to be savored while the flies, not so much. This recipe is pleasing and fresh, relying on the peanut for its base and other verdant ingredients -- like cucumber and mint -- for the occasional burst of clean, bright flavor. I could eat dishes like this until the cows came home, which would be a long while because I don't have any cows.

This cold noodle dish is quick and easy to make, perfect for a healthy meal after a nice workout. Which is how I ate it tonight: after a nice run and while watching "The Biggest Loser." (Black Team, oh Black Team. You should have sent Joelle packing.) It would also be a great lunch on a busy workday, though you might want to keep the sauce separate until you're ready to eat. I just love how the buckwheat-y soba soaks up the ginger, lime and soy, punctuated by the occasional crunch of cucumber and soft flavor of the mint. Clearly there is a reason I gravitate toward recipes like this.

Now, excuse me while I go categorize my chickpea recipes.


Adapted from "Everyday Food"

8 oz. soba (buckwheat) noodles
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. freshly-squeezed lime juice
1 T. safflower or vegetable oil
1/2 t. fresh ginger, grated
1/4 t. freshly-cracked black pepper
2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias (scallions are so lovely when cut on the bias)
1/2 cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 c. unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1/3 c. fresh mint leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook noodles until al dente, about 4-5 minutes. Watch carefully so they don't overcook and get mushy. Drain, then rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. If you're anything like me, you will find it goes against your better judgement to rinse noodles of any kind. Go ahead; it's the right thing to do for this recipe. Drain well.

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the soy sauce, lime juice, oil, ginger and black pepper. In a large bowl, combine noodles, scallions, cucumber, peanuts and mint. Toss the noodle mixture with the sauce, and serve.

Makes 4 servings, or maybe 3 if you're hungry.


Anonymous said...

This recipe takes me right back to a small village in Japan, where we stayed with a friend whose husband taught us to make soba, and then to make a very similar cold noodle salad with it. Thanks for the reminder that it's time to make soba salad again!

Dianne said...

That sounds fantastic! I would love to know how to make soba...and I'd love to visit a small village in Japan! What a treat.