i have a confession to make – i am not a big fan of whole wheat pasta – i know i should eat it. i know it’s good for me. but it just doesn’t blow my skirt up. my secret weapon? this variation on a delicious hunan style dish we had ages ago in san francisco with our parents. now when the craving hits me, i can just rummage through the pantry and come up with a yummy supper that actually makes them palatable to me.
i also must apologize (once again) for my poor photography skills. i even have a nice camera (a lovely gift from my loving boyfriend)…i don’t know what my problem is…so i know this dish looks a little bland and boring and beige in the photo, but believe me, there is a ton of flavor sensations in that bowl! you’ll just have to trust me…
okay, on to the recipe!
1. start a large pot to boil water for the pasta. it is very important that you cook your pasta al dente – for two reasons: one, i think whole wheat pasta has a tendency to get pretty mealy tasting when it’s overcooked and two, it will continue cooking when you toss it in the peanut sauce. i like to use thin spaghetti, but regular spaghetti works just as well.
2. in a large bowl (large enough to hold your pasta), combine the following:
- 2 T crunchy peanut butter (smooth will work too, but i like the little bits of peanuts)
- 2 T soy sauce (or to taste)
- 4 T rice vinegar (or to taste – i usually add a bit more once the sauce is done)
- 1 T hot red pepper oil
- 1 t sugar (optional, i actually use 1/2 t of liquid blue agave)
- 1 T sesame oil
- 1 t dried ground ginger
- 1 t granulated garlic
- 2 sliced scallions (i add the scallions after the pasta has been mixed with the sauce)
- 1 t hot mustard (optional)
- 1-2 cups of the boiling pasta water
3. i use a whisk to mix all the ingredients and let it sit and meld together while the pasta cooks. i taste the sauce before adding the water and adjust any ingredients – this is when i will probably add a splash more vinegar or a dash of the ginger (i usually only use 1 cup of the pasta water, but keep an extra cup on the side, just in case the noodles look too thick once they are mixed with the sauce).
4. toss the pasta in the sauce (the sauce should appear very thin). i also like to add diced cucumbers or bean sprouts or water chestnuts, to give the pasta a little texture. i think i posted last week that we had added fresh sugar snap peas from my boyfriend’s mom’s garden…green beans would be pretty tasty too…
this pasta is one of my boyfriend’s favorite quick meals. of course, you can use fresh ginger and garlic (1 T of each, finely minced). it’s a pretty flexible recipe and can be adjusted to suit your taste. as i said, i usually go pretty heavy on the rice vinegar and ginger, but that’s just me!
it really is a good recipe to have in your back pocket for nights that you want something flavorful, but didn’t make it to the market. i like to eat it cold the next day, my boyfriend likes to reheat his (so you might want to keep all the cucumbers on the side if you, like him, prefer your peanut noodles warm).
i hope you enjoy!