Sunday, July 3, 2011

Too-Hot-to-Cook Peanut "Noodles"

by Lauren Rauh

Sometimes the thought of turning on the stove makes me want to die. New York City summers are sticky, smelly, and oppressive. But New York summers can also be long, so if I used every hot day as an excuse to eat out, then I would surely break the bank. Instead, I see hot days as an opportunity to experiment with raw foods, dressings, and sauces. If you tire of leafy green salad day after day like I do, here is a wonderful simple and easy dish to add some diversity to your muggy day. This recipe is very versatile the only must-have ingredients are the components of the peanut sauce and the zucchini. So whatever veggies you like raw, throw them in. Or even fruit—pineapple would be delicious! Without further ado:

For the peanut sauce:
¼ c peanut butter
3 cloves garlic minced very fine
½ tablespoon red pepper flakes
Juice of ½ lemon
Water or vegetable stock to thin
Dash of salt

For the “Noodles:”
1 med zucchini, sliced thinly into ribbons
½ red onion, minced
1 med cucumber, halved and sliced thinly
1 med tomato, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets
Dash or two of salt

Prepare your vegetables. If you are staring at the zucchini directions and you want to give me a questioning, skeptical look (but you can’t!) don’t worry, I’m not going to leave you in the lurch. Just as you peel the skin of a carrot with a handheld peeler, you are going to "peel" an entire zucchini (you can use a mandolin slicer as well). Instead of stopping at the first layer of skin, keep slicing to get beautiful ribbons or noodles. As one side of the zucchini becomes flat, move around to another surface. The noodles do not have to all be the same size, but try to keep them nice and thin.

A NOTE: I cheated; my broccoli didn’t look so great, so I boiled a pot of water, dropped the broccoli in for a minute and then shocked it in an ice bath. (see Blanching 101).” If there are some veggies you prefer cooked to raw, then use this method for minimal stove time.

To make the peanut sauce combine all sauce ingredients, except the water, in a bowl. Mix thoroughly with a spoon. Taste your sauce at this point; add more lemon, garlic, or chili flakes if you desire. If the sauce seems incredibly thick add a tablespoon or two of water or stock, but don’t fret if it remains thick and sticky, the natural moisture from the veggies will thin it out.

Put all the veggies in a big bowl, scoop in your peanut sauce and mix, mix, mix. Try to avoid adding more liquid, be patient, the sauce will thin and coat everything as you continuously mix. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Serve as an appetizer (6 people) or main dish (approx 3 people).
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