Szechwan Noodles and Your Grocery Store

I am lucky to live within 15 minutes of two really great grocery stores that carry an array of produce and that also put said produce on sale at AH-MAZ-ING prices.  Our rule of thumb for grocery shopping is to purchase what’s on sale for .99 cents/lb (or less), and spend a total of $60 at the most.  But…if I see red peppers, cucumbers, and limes on sale, I have to splurge and get the rest of the fixings to go along with my most favorite go-to pasta meal:  Szechwan (Sichuan) Noodles from Moosewood Restaurant Favorites.  {Have I convinced you to purchase this cookbook yet?}  I keep this recipe permanently tagged in the cookbook–I can’t think of an easier, better tasting, and check-all-the-cravings dinner!

IMG_5251sezchwan noodles

The recipe itself calls for just cucumber, scallions, and bean sprouts to be added to the noodles.  But I love, love, love adding as many veggies as I can to make this dish a crispy crunchy satisfying treat of a meal.  The magic is in the spicy peanut dressing–it makes the noodles creamy, spicy, peanuty and so slurpably delicious!  Stir fry whatever veggies your grocery store has on sale this week, and then add the sauce to your noodles, throw a couple lime slices and sliced cucumber on the side, sprinkle roasted and salted peanuts on top, and you will thank the high heavens for the bowl of goodness in your hands.  And again, the next day, when you are eating leftovers for lunch.

Lest you think I am a professional with a studio kitchen of sorts, and the food and plating is all staged, I need to remind you that I am actually photographing my dinner for you.  Right after taking a few shots (or lots and lots of shots), I sit down and devour my plate of food.  I undoubtedly forget adding a few toppings here and there, and in this case, I realized I had forgotten to sprinkle roasted, salted peanuts on my dish after I had already inhaled half of the bowl.  My one suggestion:  Don’t forget your peanuts!


SZECHWAN NOODLES

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This recipe is adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Favorites Cookbook, with the adaptation being the addition of all the veggies!  Use whatever veggies you have on hand, the more the merrier–the yummy secret is in the spicy peanut sauce (which is straight from the cookbook, not adapted).  Most of your time will be getting your veggies prepped–they all need to be julienned to match the thickness of your noodles.  Once they are prepared, though, your cook time will be a snap.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE STIR FRY

  • 1/2 pound long noodles of choice (linguine, angel hair, soba, udon, rice, etc.)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned in about 2″ sticks
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and julienned in about 2″ sticks
  • 1 cup snow peas, julienned on the diagonal
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped well
  • 4-6 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 tablespoon Szechwan Seasoning

INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (I prefer using chunky)
  • 1/3 cup warm water (you can even use cooking water from your noodles; the warm water will help melt the p.b. and mix a smoother sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or ponzu sauce)
  • 1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1-3 teaspoons Sambal Oelek (Chinese Chili Paste with Garlic–you should be able to find it in any grocery store in the “Asian Aisle”.  Using less will equal less heat, using more will equal more heat.  You can add up to a tablespoon if you like lots and lots of heat!)

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS

  • Mini cucumber, sliced thinly (or regular sized cucumber, quartered and sliced)
  • Lime quarters
  • Sprinkling of more fresh cilantro
  • Sprinkling of roasted, salted peanuts
  • Sesame seeds

DIRECTIONS

  1. Boil water to cook your noodles and cook according to package directions.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil on medium-high heat in a large saute pan or stir fry pan.  Saute the julienned veggies (carrot through broccoli) with salt and pepper to taste until they are just crisp tender, not soggy.  If you have Szechwan Seasoning, add 1 tablespoon while sautéing.  If you don’t have the Szechwan Seasoning, you can add red pepper flakes for a little heat, and top with sesame seeds at the end, but otherwise the sauce will be your source of flavor.
  3. Whisk all the ingredients for the sauce.
  4. Drain the noodles and immediately stir with the sauce, cilantro, scallions, and sautéed veggies.
  5. Serve with optional toppings.

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