Within the space of a single week, my lovely, relatively-new-on-the-scene boyfriend 1. went with me to visit my terminally ill favorite cousin (and held me through the wracking sobs afterward), 2. met every member of my immediate family, driving me all over New England in the process, AND 3. helped me assemble some Ikea furniture. Such overt good guy-ness makes me want to cook something delicious and since he has an especial fondness for (currently blogless) Carolyn D’Agostino’s Spicy Peanut Noodles, that’s what he got. I’m including her instructions for assembling the salad, but I didn’t follow them. Instead, I cooked some chicken thighs separately, shredded them and tossed the meat with whole wheat udon noodles and served it alongside a raw salad of shredded carrot, cabbage and fennel with a lemony vinaigrette.
Spicy Peanut Noodles
3 cloves garlic, peeled
a 1″ piece of ginger, peeled
a handful of cilantro
1 c. natural, unprocessed peanut butter
3 T dark brown sugar
4 T balsamic vinegar
4 T soy sauce
1–3 T chili paste with garlic
2 t dark sesame oil (I keep spicy sesame oil around and used that for a little extra kick)
about 1/2 c hot water
Put garlic, ginger, and cilantro into food processor and mince finely. Add peanut butter and all remaining ingredients. Process. If too thick (it should be the consistency of thick cream), add more hot water.
To assemble salad: Cook a pound of Chinese noodles, wheat soba, or even thin spaghetti just past the point of al dente. Run under cold water to cool thoroughly. Put in a large bowl, surrounded by sliced cucumber, red onions, mesclun, if desired. Top with cubed extra firm tofu. Pour sauce over and garnish with shredded carrots, green onions, etc.