Hi Guys! Another edition of Famous Fridays coming your way!
This week I've chosen Mark Bittman, aka the Minimalist, to showcase. If you read the NY Times you may already be familiar with Mark's column in the Dining section, "The Minimalist"--it's been running for more than 13 years! He's also the lead food writer for the Sunday Times Magazine and and writes an Opinion column for the paper as well. In addition, he's the author of no less than 14 cookbooks! Clearly he's a busy guy--maybe that's why his recipes are generally no-frills and relatively simple to prepare. In any case, everything I've ever made from him has been delicious and these Cold noodles with Peanut Sauce are no exception. You're gonna love 'em!
Mark is all about simple, natural, healthy well-prepared food. On his website it says that his "core message is that food has the power to make or break not only our personal health but that of the planet" and that's something I wholeheartedly agree with. It takes time and effort to prepare healthy meals for yourself and your family every day and while that sometimes feels like a burden, it's also a privilege We can truly make ourselves feel better and make our planet a healthier place by turning away from the unhealthy artificial offerings of fast food and processed supermarket offerings by choosing to buy and prepare natural ingredients at home. It may take a little extra time, but the benefits reaped are so worth it. Ok, enough preaching, bring on the food!
I almost always order cold sesame noodles when we go out for Chinese food. They make me happy! There's just something so comforting and satisfying about a big bowl of chewy noodles covered with a spicy peanut sauce. Until now, I haven't been able to sufficiently recreate them at home but now I can finally happily slurp up the real thing without ordering from the takeout menu!
You start by grating a cucumber and then you make an amazingly creamy and easy peanut sauce by combining peanut butter, sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce, rice vinegar, black pepper and a few drops of hot sauce--
Meanwhile you boil chinese egg noodles or plain old spaghetti and when they're done you toss everything together and throw some chopped scallions on top. It's that easy!
And you can make it ahead and just pull it out of the fridge whenever you like. These are great cold but also delightful nuked for a bit in the microwave. Unfortunately, I don't think I will ever get tired of eating these!
These may be "Minimalist noodles", but they are maximum on flavor! If you're not already familiar with Mark Bittman, pick up a copy of one of his cookbooks or check out his NY Times contributions. You will be so glad you did!!
The Minimalist's Cold Noodles with Peanut Sauce-Famous Fridays
Makes 4-6 servings as an appetizer or side dish
Prep Time: About 30 minutes
1 medium or two small cucumbers
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce, (I used a little more)
1 teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger (I didn't use this at all--feel free if you like ginger)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
3 drops of hot sauce (use more if you like it spicier)
ground black pepper
12 oz fresh or dried Chinese egg noodles or 1 box thick spaghetti
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it.
2. Meanwhile, peel cucumbers, slice them in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon. Grate using a box grater or in the food processor. Set aside.
3. Place peanut butter, sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce, ginger (if using), vinegar, hot sauce and pepper in a small bowl and whisk together. Add about 1/4 cup of the boiling water from the pot and whisk it in till the sauce is nice and creamy. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time if it's not smooth enough. Set aside.
4. Cook the noodles or pasta until they are tender but not too soft. If using the Chinese noodles start checking after 3 minutes for dried and 1 minute for fresh. When noodles are done, drain them and rinse them with cold water to stop them from cooking any longer. Drain again.
5. In a large bowl, toss the noodles with the peanut sauce and cucumbers. Add more hot sauce or any other ingredients if you like. Sprinkle with the scallions and serve.
6. You can make this two hours before serving and keep it refrigerated. Just let the noodles sit a few minutes at room temperature before serving. Noodles will keep up to one week covered in an air tight container in the refrigerator.
Note: Recipe adapted from How to Cook Everything: The Basics by Mark Bittman