Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Cold Noodles for Hot Days

I had a whole Smart Closet post lined up for Monday but the pictures I took over the weekend turned out terrible. All dark and fuzzy. We left our camera cord at my parents in August (during their move) and my dad just unearthed it last weekend from a mountain of boxes. In the meantime we've been using our outdoor/underwater camera. This thing is great for underwater pictures of sea turtles or jumping off of rocks with but not so much for anything indoors. Hopefully we'll get the cord soon and the problem will be remedied.

In other news, it has been H-O-T here on St Thomas. During one of my many recent whine-fests to Seth about having to cook in the heat, I remembered a recipe from my favorite Mr. Mark Bittman for a cold noodle dish. It cooks up in less the 30 minutes (less time in a hot kitchen) with stuff that I usually have around and it's meant to be eaten cold straight out of the fridge (although I'm sure you could heat it if you like). It's been on repeat while we wait for December to arrive and the heat to take a few months off.

Also, I know this tip has been all over Pinterest lately, but we've been growing our used scallion roots instead of tossing them for years now. An old landlord, a guy from down island in Dominica taught us how. When you're done with the scallions you bought at the store, stick the roots in a little pot of dirt and let them grow on your windowsill or outside. Cut off what you need when you need it. You'll never be scallion-less again!

Cold Sesame-Peanut Noodles
(You can use entirely tahini or peanut butter to change up the taste, just make sure the amount you put in totals 1/2 cup. Cashew butter or almond butter would probably be good to if you have them on hand. I've also substituted both apple cider vinegar and ume plum vinegar for the vinegar in this recipe. For you carnivores, feel free to grill up a chicken breast with salt and olive oil to toss on top.)

1 lb (thin!) spaghetti noodles (this sauce is hearty enough for whole wheat noodles)
2 large cucumbers (they cut the heaviness of the sauce)
1/4 c. tahini paste
1/4 c. peanut butter
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp dark sesame oil
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp rice or white whine vinegar
1/2 c. chopped scallion to garnish
salt and pepper

Optional add-in: minced fresh ginger, tabasco sauce, crushed peanuts, cilantro, chopped baby spinach

Get your water started and boil your noodles. While the water/noodles are going, peel the cucumbers, slice them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Grate the cucumbers either by hand or with a food processor. Stir together the tahini, peanut butter, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger or tabasco if you are using either. Scoop out about a 1/2 cup of pasta water and add to the sauce until a little thicker than cream. Toss in the cucumber and stir up. When the noodles are done, drain them and rinse under cool water until they are cool. Dump them into the bowl with the sauce and cucumber and stir until fully mixed. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more of the reserved pasta water. Stir in peanuts, cilantro or chopped spinach if you're using any of them. And voila! Serve some noodles up cold in a bowl and sprinkle with scallions.

Update 10/20/12: A friend asked about protein in this dish. If you wanted to up the protein quotient, edamame would be a quick and easy item to toss in. Our freezer usually has a bag of frozen pre-shelled edamame. Follow the instructions on the bag (usually just tossing them into simmering water for a few minutes) and then mix in with the pasta when you add it to the sauce. 

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