Monday, February 26, 2007

Thai Peanut Pasta

This week, I'm on break, and my boyfriend is in midterms. (Ah - the joys of going to different colleges!) So, I'm relaxing, catching up, and trying to get ahead on homework, papers, and projects. He's frantically doing homework and studying for his break. This lends itself to long involved meals that I make by myself without help, and quick meals, well, that maybe I get a little help with (peeling carrots or something). Cooking is relaxing to me, and cooking together is just heaven. (Even, if I do take over in the kitchen, and all others can do are little things that I ask them. Many a friend has learned that trying to help without asking in the kitchen can lead to a very cranky cook. ^_^) Tonight, I reached back to a good, quick standby recipe that my mother used to make, with a bit of a twist.

Originally this recipe was for a cold pasta salad, but one night when I was little, my mom and I were really hungry, and didn't bother to wait for the noodles to chill. In doing so, we realized - hey - this is pretty good warm too! Now I make it that way more often than not, and I save the chilled version for the scorching heat of summer.

My mom used to make this recipe with chicken, marinated in some reserved sauce, but since becoming vegetarian, that has either been left out entirely, or left on the side (when someone besides me is making it!) However, I've been trying to incorporate more protein into my diet lately, and to convince my boyfriend that going veggie is easy, and protein isn't a concern. We're also both decent fans of tofu as long as it's prepared correctly, so I substituted it for the chicken. I think steamed Tempeh would probably work as well.

The recipe is based around a pre-made dry salad dressing packet, so if you have a moral objection to those, sorry!

Ingredients
Good seasons Asian Sesame dressing - made to packet instructions (oil, water, and vinegar added)
3 tbsp. chunky peanut butter
1 tsp-tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 tbsp honey (agave necter can be substituted for vegans)
1 cup shredded carrot
1 package super-firm tofu cubed
1 cup chopped red pepper (other colors would work, I just like the visual red creates)
1/2 cup chopped green onion or chives to taste
1 lb cooked angel hair

Combine made dressing with peanut butter, honey, and crushed red pepper. Drain the tofu (chop if not pre-cubed) and stir into the sauce to marinate while you get the rest of the ingredients together. (Over-night if you think about it, though while the pasta is cooking is time enough.) Start the pasta cooking. Peel and grate the carrot. Chop red pepper and green onion/chives. When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pot. Stir in the Sauce and Tofu, and recover for about 2-3 minutes, or until the tofu is warm (unless you're doing the cold salad version.) Then stir in the carrot, red pepper, and green onion/chives, dish up, and enjoy!

p.s For those who are still afraid of tofu, yet still wanting to cook vegetarian, chickpeas also work well as a replacement protein source ^_^

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