Here is a guest post for you, my dear readers. This post is by Kate, who is a busy mom (like me) and one of my favourite mommy bloggers from This Place is Now a Home. Kate is not only a busy-working mom but she is also a passionate food lover like me! Without further adieu, here is Kate's guest post with her beautiful photos by her husband Benjamin. Stay tuned FTY readers for more posts by Kate in the near future. Thank you Kate for posting!

Hi everyone! My name is Kate from This Place is Now a Home. Usually I write about my 15 month old son's antics and being a working mom, but I was so excited when Nancy asked me to do a guest post about my other favorite thing in the world - FOOD. And cooking. And cooking food. For me, weeknight dinners need to be fast, healthy and delicious, and not require weird ingredients or all day prep. This recipe meets all of those needs and then some. Yum.

Noodles. Who can resist noodles?

Now you may be thinking Italian. Heaping bowls of spaghetti with bolognese or fettuccine alfredo. But you'd be wrong. At least in my noodle fantasy. I do love a good rich, cheesy, buttery pasta dish from time to time, but for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner I almost always go for an Asian noodle dish.

First things first, I'm not Asian. So my version of "Asian noodle dishes" are somewhat like Americanized Mexican Food. Not. Exactly. The. Real. Thing. But they are full of flavors like soy sauce, ginger, lime, honey and cilantro. I say "they" because although I cook an Asian noodle dish about once a week, it's never the same twice. That's the beauty of this concept. It's so versatile and easy to switch up based on what I have sitting in the 'fridge on a given night.

Noodles + Veggies + Sauce + Protein.

To start, many kinds of Asian noodles have a leg up on Italian pasta. Rice noodles are made with (duh) rice, and there are even some brown rice versions. Cellophane noodles are made from mung beans. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat (very healthy and not actually wheat at all!). Next, you can use just about any veggie. Chop it into sticks or bite-size pieces and saute it up. Frozen, fresh, whatever. Don't be scared to throw totally frozen veggies in a hot wok; it couldn't be easier. It's an awesome way to clean out that veggie drawer. Asian sauces are pretty easy to make from pantry staples (soy sauce, oil, rice wine vinegar, lime juice, peanut butter, etc.), and you pretty much can't go wrong. Just taste as you add stuff, and balance the oil with the acid. The protein can be an egg or two fried and tossed with the noodles (think fried rice-style), tofu, grilled chicken or marinated beef - whatever you like. It can even be a nice, big spoonful of peanut butter mixed into the sauce.

Don't know where to start? Try this one. It's chock full of veggies, both sliced up and in the (mind-bogglingly delicious) peanut sauce.

Weeknight Veggie-full Peanut Noodles

Udon noodles (Found in the Asian section of the grocery store. I used 2 out of 4 of the little rolls of dried noodles)

1-2 Bok choy (I had intended to use baby bok choy and keep them somewhat in tact for a cute presentation...but I sent my husband to the store without explicit instructions to get the baby kind, so I chopped the big kind up into bite-sized pieces)

  • 1 red pepper, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • A handful of snap peas
  • 3 scallions, greens and a little whites, sliced

SAUCE (inspired by Jack Bishop's Emerald Peanut Sauce from "A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen")
  • 3 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup hot water
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar

Bring a pot of water to boil (like you are going to cook pasta). Once boiling, cook the noodles until a little al dente (slightly less than the full cooking time). When they are finished, strain them and run cold water over them so they stop cooking. Put them back in the pot with a little sesame oil so they don't stick together and set aside.

Put all of the sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until smooth.

Heat sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, toss in your hardest vegetables (in this case, bok choy through snap peas, above). Saute until veggies are crisp-tender (cooked through but still with a little "bite" to them). Add in scallions and cook 2 minutes more.

Toss cooked veggies and sauce into the same pot with the waiting noodles.

Stir and enjoy :)

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