Heart-Swooning Peanut Sauce with Seasonal Veggies and Rice Noodles

February 11, 2011 § 4 Comments

If you were to take a peek in my recycling bin on any given day, you’d likely see a few glass tea bottles, a cardboard box or two and at least half a dozen empty jars of chunky, all-natural peanut butter.  I can’t think of a day in the last eight months when I haven’t eaten PB scooped on top of oatmeal, shmeared on a muffin or scooped from the jar via spoon (favorite).  I’m a peanut butter fanatic.  As such, I’ve been tweaking one of my all-time favorite sauces: you got it!  PEANUT SAUCE.  This recipe has been four months in-the-making and I’m grinning at this very moment, because I’m awfully exited to finally share it.

Side note: I’m not a vegan, but if you’re trying to convert your loved one to veganism, good heavens — start with warm noodles and veggies, dredged in peanut sauce.  This dish is hearty, healthy, gluten-free, comforting and delicious.  After the photo shoot (above), I served my mom this plate and between bites she smiled and said, “Reg!  I just don’t want it to end!”

Before we begin, a couple recipe notes:

(1) There are few foods on earth that I truly cannot stand, but ginger and green peppers are two of them.  The later is irrelevant, but ginger is often a used in peanut sauce recipes.  If you can’t live without ginger, go ahead and throw in a minced teaspoon or two.

(2) After whisking the peanut sauce, should you stick it in the refrigerator (or even if your house is a little chilly) it might thicken a bit.  To reconstitute it, simply add hot water to the sauce a tablespoon at a time.  I generally have to add between 3 and 6 tablespoons of hot water during the making of the sauce or just before serving it.

(3)  To me, the very best salads not only offer great flavor, but fun textures, too.  Keep this in mind when portioning the toppings: Don’t skimp.  Second, depending on what veggies are in season, you may want to roast rather than stir-fry.  (To me, roasted veggies pack the best flavor.)  I roasted the broccoli and chopped green beans and sauteed the shredded Brussels sprouts.  By combining roasted and sauteed veggies, this noodle salad offered different veggie sizes and textures in each bite.

(4)  I’m a Meyer lemon nut and hunt for them every winter.  Check out your local farmers’ market to see if they’ve got ‘um — but if you don’t have them at your disposal, not to worry: Try using half lemon juice, half orange juice whenever the recipe calls for Meyer lemon juice.

Ingredients for the Heart-Swoon Sauce:
2 tablespoons tahini
1/4 cup chunky, all-natural peanut butter (salted)
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 teaspoons maple syrup
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
3+ tablespoons hot water, to loosen
1/4+ teaspoon sea salt (or more, to taste)
cracked pepper

Ingredients for the Dish:
8 oz. rice noodles

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups shredded Brussels sprouts (about 12 sprouts)
juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 large handful arugula
sea salt, pepper

2 cups broccoli, chopped, bite-size
1 cup green beans, chopped, bite-size
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt, pepper

Ingredients for Toppings:
1/3 cup scallions, chopped on diagonal
1/3 cup salted peanuts (chopped or not chopped, depending on your preference)
3-4 tablespoons sesame seeds (toasted preferred)
few tablespoons cilantro, chopped


1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees and prep veggies.  Wash broccoli and green beans; chop in bite-sized pieces.  Wash arugula and rinse and shred brussels sprouts.  On a large sheet pan with a rim, combine green beans and broccoli with a generous pinch of sea salt, cracked pepper and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook until al dente and slightly charred around the edges — about 20-25 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add rice noodles and cook according to package instructions.  (Note: I find that 7-8 oz. of noodles is a good amount for four or five generous servings of this salad.)

3.  Prepare sauce: Whisk together all ingredients.  Add hot water to loosen sauce as needed.  Set aside.

4.  In a large sauce pan on the stove, heat a tablespoon of olive oil.  Saute shredded Brussels sprouts with a pinch of sea salt and pepper until wilted and slightly carmazelized around the edges.  Add juice of half a Meyer lemon and washed arugula and cook until the arugula has wilted and most of the lemon juice has evaporated — about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Prep toppings.

5.  When rice noodles are cooked al dente, drain and add 1/2 cup of the peanut sauce to the hot noodles to allow them to soak in the flavor.  Toss noodles with shredded sprouts, arugula, broccoli & green beans.  Add additional sauce as needed, reserving a few tablespoons for individual dishes.  Garnish with cilantro, sesame seeds, salted peanuts, scallions and a drizzle of extra sauce.

Diet Notes: Gluten-free, vegan


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