February 5, 2012
Thai Peanut Pasta Salad
Our book club dinner theme this past week was "what food couldn't you live without for five years?" I thought it was pretty ingenious of our host, as the characters in our book, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, endured five years during the war without much else but potatoes.
Immediately, I shouted back on the email chain, "peanut butter!" I would miss peanut butter the most, that much is clear. Peanut butter in sundaes, on brownies, toast, cheesecake and cookies, or just plain on a spoon.... My love for peanut butter is shameless, deep, and without limits.
But we already had a few members bringing dessert to our gathering (a few other members also immediately replied, "ice cream!" and "chocolate!"
Seeing that we were covered in the dessert category, I thought I would make a savory dish that incorporated my favorite ingredient. I adore peanut sauce in Thai-style stir fries, and we eat it often with rice, chicken or tofu, and veggies. For the sake of feeding a crowd and traveling easily with the dish, I decided to use my favorite peanut sauce in a pasta salad. I used cute little penne tossed with diced red, green, and yellow peppers and shaved carrots for color and nutritional boost.
What's the food you couldn't live without? And how many different ways could you think of using it?
This peanut-butter-based sauce would be lovely with linguine or rice noodles, and your favorite vegetables and proteins, so feel free to get creative. After all, that's what our book characters had to do during the war, as they baked "pies" out of potato peels and mashed potatoes....Even though times are so much better (as evidenced by our huge, varied spread at Book Club dinner) it's a joy and a challenge to play in the kitchen. Especially when you've got your favorite ingredients and food on hand.
Thai Peanut Pasta Salad: (makes 1 cup peanut sauce in 1 lb. pasta)
1 lb. penne pasta
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1/3 cup water
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
1 T. honey
1 T. Sesame oil
1.5 t. fresh grated ginger
1 t. minced garlic
1 t. Siracha or other hot sauce
zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
salt and pepper to taste
2 carrots, peeled, then shaved with the peeler
1 cup diced red, yellow, and green pepper
Directions: Set the salted water for the pasta to boil in the stove. Add the pasta when ready and boil according to the directions until just al-dente. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water to stop the cooking process. Meanwhile add all of the ingredients up until the salt and pepper to the bowl of a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Add pasta to a large bowl with the carrots and pepper. Toss gently as you pour the contents of the peanut sauce over the pasta. Stir until evenly coated, then salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature. Stores well in the fridge!