Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thai Peanut Noodles with Dueling Peppers and Cucumber

This is my new favorite thing to eat, hot from the stove or cold from the fridge. I use udon noodles, but it would be just as good with linguine, spaghetti, or even whole wheat spaghetti as the nuttiness of the wheat would compliment the peanut butter. And don't crinkle your nose at the idea of cucumber - its refreshing crunch is the perfect antidote to the jalapeno.

I love this on a weeknight when I crave home cooking but don't have the mental energy to do more than push a spoon around. You basically chop a couple of veggies, throw them in a mixing bowl with everything else while you boil the noodles, drain the noodles and stir them all together. Idiot cooking, but you can still hold your head up for having made dinner.

Oh and the diced chicken is optional. If omitting, I like to add additional chopped peanuts over the top for more substance.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Dueling Peppers and Cucumber
Serves 3-4.

1 lb udon noodles, linguine, or spaghetti
3 Tblspns soy sauce
2 Tblsps rice Vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
2 Tblsns packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chunky low fat peanut butter
2 Tblspns Oriental sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or more to taste

1 small clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno (deseeded and deveined), minced
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup diced cucumber
1/3 cup of chopped cilantro

1 cup cooked, diced chicken breast, optional

Fill your spaghetti pot with water, cover and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl, dump in the soy sauce, vinegar, chicken stock, brown sugar, peanut butter, sesame oil, and ginger then mix thoroughly with a large fork, breaking up the peanut butter and mixing until smooth.

When the noodles are cooked to your liking (I like al dente), drain and rinse them quickly under cold water, then put back into the same pot you boiled them in over a low flame. Add the veggies (garlic, jalapeno, and red bell pepper) to the hot noodles, giving a gentle stir to incorporate (the heat from the noodles should quickly cook the finely minced garlic/take off their raw edge.) Once thoroughly mixed, stir in the peanut butter mixture. When thoroughly combined, stir in the diced cucumber and cilantro and chicken, if adding, so it heats through. Remove from heat and serve. If you want the mixture to firm up a bit (the taste will still be lovely even if it looks 'soupy'), let cool slightly. Otherwise serve right away. Also good at room temp or even cold from the fridge the next day:)

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