The list of news topics I’m avoiding is growing longer.
Economic meltdowns. Environmental apocalypses.
It’s not that I don’t care, or that I don’t keep myself informed, but there’s a tightrope we all walk, and sometimes the balance is a bit precarious. Tip the anxiety a bit too far to one side and bam. You’re flat on your back.
The latest topic on my list is El Nino (which I think is a super El Nino this year? The meaning of which I’m not entirely sure because I’ve been avoiding the topic ever since I heard something about it bringing more storms this winter.)
Last winter was the worst. Ever. Short – but brutal. An unending onslaught of snow and wind for two inconceivably long months. There’s really no way it could get worse than that.
Except that it can. That’s what makes a person think winter is actually an animated force and not just an unfortunate coincidence of latitude and air currents.
But there are so many lovely vegetables ripening in this tail end of summer that I can balance just fine (with the radio off).
This Sweet Chili Heat Peanut Noodle Salad combines a generous amount of fresh vegetables with noodles and a peanut dressing. You can vary the vegetables to accommodate whatever you’ve got on hand, and it keeps well in the fridge so you can have the leftovers for lunch.
For the noodles, you can use spaghetti if you don’t have any Chinese noodles on hand. I like to use Rooster brand noodles (which in Canada are usually available at most Superstores or Loblaws). They are cheap (around 99 cents a package), and aren’t full of additives like those you’ll find in Ramen noodles. Each package of ‘Rooster noodles’ is divided into 6 portions. This recipe uses 3 of these.
The key to this salad is cutting the vegetables into long, thin strips to go with your noodles. The julienned vegetables take a bit more time to prepare, but are a good chance to practice knife skills and provides an opportunity for a bit of kitchen zen. (Here’s a video on how to julienne.)
Of course, you can use a food processor or mandoline if you have one – no pressure. And if you prefer chunks to julienne? It’s your kitchen, your table. You call the shots.
The dressing is whisked together in one bowl. I usually use dried garlic and ginger to appeal (appease?) some of the people at my table, but freshly minced is lovely. You can make an extra batch to keep on hand in the fridge to drizzle over some chicken or tofu and rice, or on steamed vegetables. It will keep for up to a week.
So here’s to what’s left of summer and all her bounty (and the occasional putting of heads in the sand).
- 8 cups / 2 liters assorted vegetables, thinly sliced
- 2 green onions (green tops included), thinly sliced
- 3 cups / 750 ml cooked noodles, rinsed and cooled
- ½ cup / 125 ml peanut butter
- ⅓ cup / 80 ml sweet Asian chili sauce (you can find this in the import or condiment section of most grocery stores)
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml lime juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced (or ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml dried garlic powder)
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (or 1-1/2 teaspoons / 7.5 ml dried)
- ¼ teaspoon / 1.25 ml ground pepper
- ½ cup / 125 ml warm water
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon / 2.5 ml dried chili flakes
- 2 tablespoons / 30 ml sesame seeds or ¼ cup / 60 ml chopped peanuts (optional)
- In large mixing bowl, toss vegetables, green onions and noodles together until mixed.
- In separate bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and whisk together until it is smooth. (You can also add them to the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth.)
- Pour dressing over vegetables and noodles in bowl.
- Toss until the dressing is evenly distributed over the salad. Sprinkle with sesame seeds or peanuts (if using) before serving.