Monday, August 11, 2008

Another Harvest Meal: Peanut Noodles with Garden Vegetables

On Saturday night I whipped up a delicious dish of peanut noodles from garden produce, pantry items, and some of that free jar of peanut butter, following a recipe left in the comments. I used up some of this rainbow chard, part of an oversized zucchini, and a generous handful of cherry tomatoes. The veggies were stir-fried and then mixed with rice noodles and a peanutty sauce made with creamy peanut butter.

Here's how I went about it.

Place 8 ounces of dried rice noodles in a pot and cover with tepid water. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes, and up to a few hours.  If you need them in a hurry, gently warm the water until they soften significantly, but do not boil them.  When soft enough to bend easily they are ready, and you can achieve this with a long soak at room temperature.  Then drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, mix the following: 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, 1 Tbsp. dark roasted sesame oil, 3-4 tsp. ancho chili powder (or other chili powder). Stir to combine and then thin with a little water if the sauce is very thick.

Large dice about 3-4 cups of vegetables. I used chard, cherry tomatoes, and zucchini. But other vegetables would work well too. Also mince a few cloves of garlic and a thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger. Finely slice the white parts of several scallions. Cut the green parts into larger pieces. Mix the garlic, ginger and scallion whites together in a bowl.

Pre-heat a large cast iron skillet (the larger the better) for 10-12 minutes on high heat. The pan will be smokin' hot. Add a generous amount of cooking oil and tilt the skillet quickly to coat evenly. Add the ginger, garlic, and scallion whites and quickly stir for just a few seconds. Add the vegetables very quickly so the seasoning ingredients do not burn. Stir the vegetables as they sizzle in the oil, until they are softened and/or slightly wilted. (If you are using vegetables that require very different cooking times, add them sequentially, in order of longest cooking time to shortest.) The vegetables should not need more than a few minutes to cook at such a high temperature.

Add the noodles and scallion greens to the skillet and add the peanut sauce on top of them. (You may want to hold back some of the sauce, depending on how heavily dressed you like your noodles.) Toss the ingredients with cooking tongs, as you would a salad, to distribute the sauce and heat the noodles through. Serve hot, garnished with a wedge of lemon or cilantro if you like.

It occurred to me that this is a vegan recipe, though I'm far from vegetarian, let alone vegan. This dish will serve 2-4, depending on appetites. We had plenty to eat and a fair amount of leftovers, which were pretty good eaten cold the next day.

I love pulling together dishes like this that taste great and cost us nearly nothing. Garden produce, pantry items, and a freebie ingredient. The rice noodles cost 50 cents, and the rest of the ingredients that we paid for probably came to less than $1. $1.50 for four hearty and healthy meals is a good deal, wouldn't you say?

Other harvest meals:
Saag Paneer
Garden Pizza
Egg & Chard Curry
Fusilli with Tuscan Kale in a Creamy Tomato Sauce
Pumpkin-Sage Penne Pasta
Kale & Barley Soup
Vegetable Soup with Lamb Stock
Carrot and Chili Pepper Escabeche
Arugula Noodles
Garlic Scape Carbonara
Vegetarian Futomaki

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