Saturday, September 19, 2009

Whole wheat pasta with mystery peanut sauce and steamed vegetables

Peanut sauce goes really well with whole wheat pasta. This peanut sauce was made by my mom, who was too scared to eat it, so she gave it to me. Admittedly, a certain amount of faith and daring is required to try it the first time, but screw your courage to the sticking place and make the effort. There are many variations—with coconut milk or without, with garlic, with hoisin sauce, with lime, with various chillies, herbs, and spices, cooked or stirred up raw. Be careful with the garlic, if you're keeping the sauce for more than one day, as it becomes more and more powerful over time. Unless you're a raw garlic lover, use roasted garlic or just the smallest clove of fresh. What my mom did was probably something like this:

Simple peanut sauce

1/2 cup unsweetened creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 small garlic clove, mashed to a paste
1 tsp chilli-garlic paste
1 tbsp dark sesame oil
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Stir until well combined, adding more water to thin the sauce if necessary.

I stirred a few tablespoons into the cooked pasta, then added steamed vegetables and tofu, and topped it with a little avocado and cucumber and sesame seeds.

If you're not too concerned about looks, you can make dishes like this in one pot. Boil lots of water for the pasta in a big pot, enough so it won't cool each time you add something to it, put in the pasta, and then, cleverly timing your additions, drop in your vegetables one at a time—in this case it would be cauliflower, then sweet red pepper, then tofu, then snow peas just seconds before the pasta is finished. Drain the whole mess, add the peanut sauce, mix it all up, sprinkle on the toppings, and you've got your meal ready in the time it took to boil the pasta.

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