Saturday, May 19, 2012

Cold-Noodles Warm Heart

One thing I love about living in a place with a change of seasons, is that it also acts as a cue to change the menu.  Not only would a non-changing climate bore me, but how would I know when its soup season?  Every fall I get excited when its time to pull out the sweaters and start making soups and stews and other warm dishes that take the chill out of your bones.  The same is true for spring and summer.  I look forward to more dinners cooked on the grill and really good salads that you can pretty much make a meal out of.  Last night we had a really nice summer meal and it was easy and quick to make.  My friend Kristin has been waiting a while for this one...Cold Curry Peanut Noodles from the trusty Food TV Magazine Cookbook.  I made it for a brunch a while back and she has mentioned a few cravings since.  My friend Jen has a similar recipe that I love but I'm told you need a whole giant list of ingredients for it.  This one, not so much.
The sauce is made from crunchy peanut butter, curry paste, rice vinegar, lime and cilantro.  I don't use a ton of rice vinegar but it is nice to have on hand.  It seems to last forever too, so eventually you will get around to using it.
Red curry paste is probably not something you have on hand (unless you're freaks for Thai food, like us).  This can be found in the Asian section at most grocery stores and it is really tasty but has a lot of heat to it.  The recipe calls for 1 to 2 Tablespoons.  The first time I made it I used 1 and it wasn't spicy at all, this time I used 2 (I may have even had a little more because I didn't make them level) and it was pretty hot.  I think next time I'll go with 1 1/2.  I put the rest in the freezer for another day.
Before you get started throw on a pot of salted water and cook some whole wheat spaghetti according to the directions on the box.  The sauce is as easy as throwing the ingredients in the food processor (or blender) and processing until smooth.  This stuff smells really good!

Once your sauce is done you can thinly slice some carrot.  I did this with my new mandolin slicer that I got for Mother's day.  It worked like a champ.
Do the same with a cucumber.  Next time I will do them a little thicker, they kind of got lost in the salad.  Thin strips with a knife will be just right. You will also need to slice a couple of scallions.
Once the noodles are done, save about a cup of the pasta water and drain.  Rinse with cold water.
Then you toss them all together and season with a little salt as needed.  I may add a dash of soy sauce next time instead.  I'm thinking that might be a nice addition.  You can also add some thin strips of red or orange bell pepper to this as well.  If you're making a meal of it, the more veggies the merrier.

Cold Curry-Peanut Noodles (Food TV)

Kosher salt
12 oz whole wheat spaghetti
2/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 to 2 Tbs red curry paste
2 tsp rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup cilantro leaves, plus more for sprinkling
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 large carrot, coarsely grated or sliced into thin strips

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the spaghetti and cook as label directs.  Reserve about 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain in a colander and rinse under cold water.  Shake off excess water.

Meanwhile, puree the peanut butter, curry paste, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp salt in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Toss the spaghetti with the peanut sauce, scallions, carrot and cucumber in a large bowl until well coated.  Season with salt and reserved cooking water if needed to loosen.
This was a lovely accompaniment to a little grilled swordfish.  Good stuff my friends.  Good stuff.

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