meatless monday: hot-and-sour peanut noodles with bok choy

oodles of noodles.

Do you know the secret of making tasty Chinese takeout really tasty? Add nuts. To every and any dish. Cashews, peanuts, slivered almonds, walnuts. Sometimes your restaurant will add it for you, if you ask nicely, other times you’ll need to have some on hand to sprinkle over your General Tso’s bean curd or Szechuan green beans. And for when you’re making your own noodles, try this meatless wonder: hot-and-sour peanut noodles with bok choy.

You gotta love a peanut noodle. You don’t gotta love a bok choy (I really don’t, and it’s no secret), so you can do what I do and substitute out any hearty, bitter green (roughly chopped kale or Swiss chard work well here). This dish is low in calories and can be gluten free, by the way. For extra nuttiness, I stir in a few heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter at the end, melting over the noodles into a creaminess that’s pure heaven in a wok. Perfect, easy, complete.

Hot-and-Sour Peanut Noodles with Bok Choy
Adapted from the April 2012 issue of Self; my own substitutions are in parenthesis

Serves 4

8 oz. whole-wheat spaghetti (SL: for gluten-free, try flat rice noodles)
2 1/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
1 tbsp. canola or sunflower oil
1 lg. shallot, sliced
1 piece (about 1 in.) ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 lb. baby bok choy, leaves and stems separated, roughly chopped (SL: sub out another hearty green like kale or Swiss chard)
1 red bell pepper, sliced
3/4 c. low-sodium vegetable stock or water
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp. dark sesame oil
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1/2 c. chopped unsalted roasted peanuts (SL: or cashews, almonds, walnuts, pistachios…)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1/4 c. chunky all natural peanut butter (SL: this is my own dirty little secret!)

Cook pasta as directed on package with 2 tsp. salt until just tender. Drain and rinse pasta with cool water. In a large nonstick skillet, heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Cook shallot and ginger, stirring, until just brown, about 1 min. Add bok choy stems, bell pepper and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until peppers are crisp-tender, 1 to 2 min. Transfer contents of skillet to a plate. To same skillet, add bok choy leaves, stock, soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar. Cook, stirring, until leaves are soft and bright green, 1 to 2 min. Add bell pepper mixture, pasta, peanuts and pepper flakes to pan. Toss to combine, and stir in peanut butter until slightly melted. Serve.

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