Weekly Winner:  Noshing on Noodles

There’s something about cold noodles that I just love.  They’re addictive and refreshing all at once.  Usually you find cold noodles in some sort of Asian variety, but if we’re being totally honest with each other, I’ve been known to dig into cold left-over Italian-style pasta as well.  A noodle is a noodle, right?

Cold Sesame Noodles with Broccoli and Kale from Bon Appetit was a happy find for me for several reasons.  First of all, they’re cold noodles – and not just any noodles, but ramen noodles (bonus!). Secondly it has roasted broccoli.  I am happy to eat broccoli in any way, shape or form (including raw) but roasted is definitely my favorite.  Finally, it served as yet one more way I can get hubby to happily eat kale.  I think the zip of the vinegar and spice of the sambal oelek has a lot to do with it, but I’m taking my victories however I can.

As the temperatures continue to rise here in Chicago, rest assured this will become not only my go-to lunch, but also an awesome side dish to take along to concerts, picnics and cookouts.

Cold Sesame Noodles with Broccoli and Kale

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 large head of broccoli, cut into large florets with some stalk attached

2 garlic cloves, 1 finely grated, 1 thinly sliced, divided

1-1/2 tsp sambal oelek

1 Tbsp plus 1/2 cup sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, divided

3/4 cup vegetable oil, divided

1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more to taste

3 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced, plus more for serving

1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled, cut into 1-inch match sticks

4 cups chopped Tuscan kale leaves

2 (10 oz) packages fresh ramen noodles or 2 (3 oz) packages dried

Torn mint leaves and toasted sesame seeds (for serving)

Preparation:

  • Preheat oven to 450F.  Toss broccoli with grated garlic, sambal oelek, 1 Tbsp vinegar, and 1/4 cup oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.  Roast, tossing occasionally, until tender and browned in spots, 20-25 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk scallions, ginger, sliced garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and remaining 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/2 cup oil in a large bowl.  Add kale; toss to coat.  Let sit at room temperature at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
  • Cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain; rinse under cold water.  Add noodles and warm broccoli to kale and toss to coat. Divide among bowls and top with mint, sesame seeds, and more scallion greens.
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Weekly Winner: Bowled Over Big-Time with the Ideal Warm Weather Bowl

It’s summer.  It’s hot. I don’t want anything heavy and some nights, I don’t even want anything hot to eat. Cool, healthy, light and easy…that’s what I’m talking about. However I have to admit that salads do seem to get a bit old.  They work fine for a summer lunch but come dinner I just want something more than another salad. Enter: Chicken Noodle Bowl with Peanut-Ginger Sauce from Southern Living Magazine.  Ding-ding-ding!!!  We have a winner!  This hits the spot on so many levels for me.  First and most importantly they had me at peanut sauce.  Honestly, I can spread a good peanut sauce on cardboard and be happy.  Then comes noodles — I’ve yet to meet a noodle I didn’t like.  Last but not least, my good old friend and dependable standby, the chicken.  Honestly, there is not a thing to dislike about this dish. It’s incredibly quick, easy to make and very satisfying to dive into.  Also, there is no need to turn on a stove or oven as the noodles are cooked with the microwave.  Yay!

This takes the new “bowl” craze and tweaks it just enough to ensure that it will be in very steady rotation in my household. Another great thing about this type of dish is that it is infinitely changeable and customizable to whatever you have in the fridge.  You can substitute any kind of noodle or pasta and mix and match whatever veggies you have on hand.  The only thing I won’t be messing with is the peanut-ginger sauce.  It is and will remain perfect, regardless of what it is drizzled on.

Chicken Noodle Bowl with Peanut-Ginger Sauce

Serves 6

Ingredients

PEANUT-GINGER SAUCE

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

4 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

CHICKEN NOODLE BOWL

8 cups water

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

6 ounces rice noodles

3 cups shredded cooked chicken

3 cups shredded napa cabbage

1 1/2 cups halved and thinly sliced seedless cucumber

1 1/2 cups matchstick carrots

1 1/2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper

6 tablespoons chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts

Procedure:

1. Prepare the Sauce: Process all 9 ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

2. Prepare the Chicken Noodle Bowl: Microwave water in a large bowl on HIGH 10 minutes. Stir vinegar and salt into boiling water. Add noodles and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain noodles.

3. Divide noodles, chicken, cabbage, cucumber, carrots, and bell pepper among 6 bowls. Top each bowl with 1 tablespoon peanuts and 2 tablespoons Peanut-Ginger Sauce. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

Weekly Winner:  Super Simple, Speedy, Sumptuous Satay – Noodles

I have made absolutely no secret of the fact that I dearly love anything with a good peanut sauce.  I’m also a complete sucker for noodles of any variety or nationality.  If there’s a noodle dish on the menu, I’ll probably order it. And if that noodle dish happens to include a peanut sauce. Ding-Ding-Ding!   We have a winner.

Beef Satay Noodles is a super easy, totally delicious recipe that can be whipped up anytime.  I tried it out at home first a little over a week ago and then made it for a client and both responses were the same — “keep this in short rotation”.  The thing that makes it so quick and simple is the use of pre-packaged broccoli slaw.  It can be adapted to various heat tolerances by adding more or not so much Sriracha and, if you’re like me, you can completely omit the cilantro. I didn’t miss it and I doubt you will either.  The recipe comes from Food Network Magazine.  Find it or copy it here because trust me: you need this recipe.

Beef Satay Noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 oz stir-fry rice noodles

1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp grated peeled ginger

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 lb ground beef sirloin

2 Tbsp roasted peanut oil (or 1 Tbsp each sesame oil and vegetable oil)

3 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 9-oz package broccoli slaw

1 tsp Sriracha, plus more for serving

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Lime wedges, for serving

Procedure:

Put the noodles in a bowl; cover with warm water and soak at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Add the beef and mix with a spoon to combine.

Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the broccoli slaw and cook, stirring, until it starts wilting, about 3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil in the skillet, then add the beef mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, gently stir the noodles to separate. Reserve 1/2 cup soaking water, then drain the noodles. Return the vegetables to the skillet with the beef and stir to combine. Add the noodles, the reserved soaking water and the Sriracha. Cook, gently tossing, until warmed through, about 4 minutes. Serve with lime wedges and more Sriracha.

Weekly Winner:  Pasta + Pork + Peanuts = Pure Perfection

Here I go again – declaring my ardent and undying love for a good peanut sauce.  Heck, in most cases I’ll settle for an average peanut sauce!  It’s one of those things that I simply cannot ignore –If I see a recipe for it, I’ll tear it out. If I see it on a menu, chances are good I’ll order it – regardless of what it is on or comes with.  But, you combine a good peanut sauce with pasta and a pork product of any variety and I am in…. all in!

I have featured a bunch of variations on this peanut theme here — Dan Dan Noodles, Peanut Soba with Stir-Fried Beef & Broccoli, Grilled Asian Chicken with Peanut Noodles, Hoisin Peanut SauceThai Peanut Curry Noodles with Edamame and Kohlrabi.   This week’s however, just might be the best.  At least its my new current favorite.  Its Rotini with Ground Pork and Spicy Peanut Sauce.  It packs a punch heat wise, but the lime is a nice counterbalance to the heat and well, then you have pork and pasta!  A word of warning; however … this is one of those dishes that you just keep eating, and eating, and eating.  The recipe comes from Fine Cooking and as usual, the only change I made was deleting the cilantro.  Including that would disqualify it immediately from the title of perfection.  Besides, the recipe clearly stated that the cilantro was optional!

Rotini with Ground Pork and Spicy Peanut Sauce

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

12 oz. rotini

1-1/2 Tbs. Asian sesame oil

5 medium scallions, thinly sliced, whites and greens separated

2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. ground pork

3 Tbs. soy sauce

2 Tbs. unseasoned rice vinegar

1 Tbs. sambal oelek or other Asian chile paste; more to taste

1 Tbs. granulated sugar

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter, preferably natural

2/3 cup lower-salt chicken broth

1 medium lime, cut into 4 wedges

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Procedure:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the rotini and cook according to package directions until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then the scallion whites. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.
Crumble in the pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until it loses its pink color, about 5 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sambal oelek, and sugar and cook until bubbling. Add the peanut butter and stir until incorporated. Pour in the broth, stir well, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Stir in the pork mixture and scallion greens. Thin the sauce with the pasta water, if necessary. Divide among plates or bowls, squeeze a lime wedge over each serving, and top with cilantro, if using.

Weekly winner:  Cool, Crunchy, Curried, Kohlrabi … Noodles

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a sucker for a good peanut sauce. I love it on anything, but particularly on noodles.  And these are cold noodles which made them the perfect side dish to grilled pork chops – no added heat in the kitchen!

I’ve only recently discovered kohlrabi and I’m definitely hooked!  I’m not even sure if there are any recipes that call for it cooked as I’ve only tried it raw and love it.   Crunchy and clean tasting – like broccoli’s sweeter sister.  Add to that the creaminess of the edamame and the crispness of the red pepper which all just mixes beautifully with the heat of the green curry paste and luscious-ness of the peanut butter.  Have I waxed poetically enough about this dish???  Probably.  The only thing I’ve changed in this recipe is that it called for whole wheat spaghetti. Yeah, that’s not going to happen…. not in this kitchen.

The recipe comes from Eating Well Magazine and if you make this, you will definitely be eating well. Very Well.

Thai Peanut Curry Noodles

Ingredients:

8 ounces spaghetti

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1 small shallot, minced

2 tablespoons Thai green, red or yellow curry paste

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup frozen edamame (thawed)

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks

1 cup matchstick-cut peeled kohlrabi

Preparation:

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the water, then drain the pasta and rinse well with cold water.

Whisk the reserved pasta water, peanut butter, shallot, curry paste, ginger, soy sauce, oil and salt in a large bowl. Add the pasta, edamame, bell pepper and kohlrabi; toss well to coat.