peanut butter noodles

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easy lunch!

This is a staple in our household, now with my own little family of 4 and when I was growing up.  It’s one of those dishes that you can turn to when you have nothing planned; easy, makes use of the pantry, and any leftovers.  The sauce is the most important part, which is mostly things you likely already have in your kitchen (peanut butter, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar) and some optional add ons for even more flavour.

In the recipe I’ve listed the ingredients I happened to use today, but honestly every time I make this it changes just a little bit! For example, last time I had zucchini and sugar snap peas to use up so those were the veggies that went into the noodles. You can use whatever you have in your fridge or buy your favourite veggies for it. I tend to have these flat noodles always available in my pantry (it’s called Wu-mu dry noodles, made in Taiwan – you can find it at Loblaws / Superstore in the international section or any Asian grocery store), but if you don’t have this you can most definitely use other dry noodles, such as linguine, rice noodles (think flat ones for pad thai), or even egg noodles. Just make sure you read the package for optimal cooking time for the noodles you’ve chosen.

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comfort in a bowl

Saturdays are busy for us so this is a great go-to lunch on the weekend. It is also great on a weeknight if you have leftover protein from the night before but not enough for everyone to have a solid portion (let’s say, a chicken drum and half a chicken breast) – you can slice up the protein into bite size pieces and simply add it to your noodles. We’ve done left over pork, tofu, turkey, steak, even store-bought ham works.  You can keep it super simple or jazz it up by adding in all the optional ingredients.

prep: 15 min   cook: 10 min    yield: 6-8 servings

what you need:

  • ~8 heads of bok choy (equivalent of a typical package)
  • 1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots

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    Wu-Mu Dry Noodles

  • dry noodles (about 2 handfuls)
  • 2 green onions *optional
  • 1 handful of cilantro *optional

peanut butter sauce:

  • 2 heaping tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp naturally brewed soy sauce or Tamari
  • something sweet 1 1/2 tsp (honey, sugar, maple syrup, mirin, whatever you have)
  • 1 1/2 tsp grape seed oil (or other mild tasting cooking oil)
  • zest of 1 lime and it’s juice *optional – instead you can use 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger *optional – you could use garlic in addition, instead, or omit completely
  • 1 red chilli (or something spicy like jalapeno) *optional – if you’re serving kids you can always add this only to the adult portion, or add desired hot sauce such as sriracha on top afterwards

what to do:

  1. Fill your kettle to max capacity and boil water. Get a large pot on the stove with 4″ of water on high heat.
  2. Wash bok choy thoroughly and slice thinly. Wash and peel carrots and cut into matchstick sizes.
  3. Kettle is likely boiling now – add it to your large pot on the stove.
  4. Combine sauce ingredients in a mason jar and shake really well.
  5. Cook noodles according to package in boiling water. For the last minute of noodle cooking, add your chopped carrots and bok choy to quickly blanch the veggies.
  6. Reserve 1 cup of noodle cooking liquid. Drain the rest and place cooked noodles and veggies in a large serving platter. Top with sauce and toss to combine. If it seems dry, add a little bit of the reserved liquid and toss again, until desired consistency.
  7. Sprinkle chopped green onion and cilantro over top. ENJOY!
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fresh rolls

simply delicious!

simply delicious!

I have yet to meet someone in my life who doesn’t like fresh rolls.  I have made this for many of my friends and they always get gobbled up! I have had the pleasure of hosting a few bridal/baby showers and these are always a big hit. They require a little bit of labour and love but they are quite easy to make! The secret is making sure you have a solid peanut dipping sauce – the vegetables and noodles inside the rice wrap are not seasoned, therefore the sauce has to be very flavourful to pack a good punch. Traditional Thai-style fresh rolls have a basil leaf rolled in them along with the veggies but my husband really doesn’t it so I omit it, but definitely use it if you like the taste of basil.

You can pretty much put whatever kinds of vegetables you like in these rolls – you just want to make sure you cut them about the same size (it looks nice and also eats better) and try to choose a few different colours so that it is vibrant. Cooked shrimp also tastes great in these! It makes me sad that I can’t have shrimp anymore (after having pie pie I developed a new shellfish allergy…sad sad sad).

Since most of the veggies inside are raw and the rolls itself are quite big, it was hard for pie pie (my toddler) to eat so she ended up tearing it apart and dipping her veggies in the peanut sauce (which she loved).

prep: 20 – 30 min   yield: 12 rolls

what you need:

  • 12-15 large round rice papers (the first few might rip so extra is a good idea!)
  • 12 asparagus
  • 1/2 bag of bean sprouts
  • 1 small bundle of mung (green) bean noodles (or rice noodles)
  • 1 large carrot or 2 small ones
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/3 cucumber
  • 1 bell pepper

peanut sauce:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp naturally brewed soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp vinegar or ponzu
  • 1 tsp raw honey or agave
  • zest and juice of a lime
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger (the easiest way is to freeze it and then use a microplane)
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs of cilantro, finely chopped
  • a few dashes of fish sauce *optional
  • 1 red thai chilli, finely chopped for maximal heat or slice in half and remove seeds for minimal heat (wash your hands after!) *optional

what to do:

  1. Fill your kettle with water and turn it on.
  2. Mix all peanut sauce ingredients in a mason jar and shake vigorously. Store in the fridge.DSC_0612
  3. Prep all your veggies first – wash them thoroughly, peel the ones that need to be peeled, then cut them into long strips, about 2/3 of the diameter of your rice paper. I decided to grate my carrots because carrots can be a little hard, and I wanted some different textures in my fresh rolls. Set aside for your assembly line for rolling.
    prepped

    ready to roll, literally! prepped veggies & noodles

  4. For the asparagus, while you can eat it raw, I find it to be a little hard to eat that way and prefer to blanche them just to soften them a little bit. To do that, bring a pot of water to a boil, add your trimmed and cut asparagus, and just let them cook in the boiling water for about 30 seconds – 1 minute – they will turn a bright green. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In the same pot of water that you used to cook the asparagus, add your noodles (just a small bundle, about a handful). Rice noodles and mung bean noodles cook very quickly, in about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside as well.
  6. Set up your station to roll by placing a large cutting board down and the veggies & noodles in front of you.
  7. In a large shallow pan or dish, add hot water (from your kettle) – if it’s too hot then just let it sit for a moment – you need the water to be hot but not scalding…Carefully take one rice paper sheet and gingerly place it in the water but make sure you keep holding the top edge of it and start rotating it so that all edges touch the water.  When it becomes pliable it’s ready…if it is immersed in the water too long it will just tear. This part requires a quick, gentle and deft hand! It might take practice (the first few times I made these I threw away a bunch of rice papers!). DSC_0616
  8. Place the rice paper on the cutting board and place one of each veggie and a little mound of carrot/sprouts about 1/3 of the way up from the bottom. Fold from either side, then lift the bottom and tuck and roll tightly – the rice paper sticks to itself very well. Again, if it’s been in the hot water too long (or if your water is too hot), it will likely tear. Don’t worry, just keep making them and you’ll get the hang of it! The first few might not be the prettiest but hey they all taste the same!
  9. If you are eating them right away, just place them onto your serving dish and stack them up! If you are serving them later in the day or even into the next day, be sure to store them in an airtight container with a wet paper towel. They taste best fresh but sometime I make extra for lunches the next day so the paper towel does do the trick. Serve it up with the peanut dipping sauce. Enjoy!