Peanut Butter Goes Pow!: Pantry Power
The peanut butter jar is always in the cupboard, and it’s always a possibility. There used to be nights when I wished I could just slap PB&Js on the table and scream “THIS IS SUPPER!” Tragically, these were nights my kids would probably have preferred some of my more ambitious attempts.
But we can raid that peanut butter jar for a kid-friendly supper without having to humiliate ourselves. (Although this Peanut Butter and Apple-Bacon Sandwich comes pretty close to being supper-worthy. I, at least, wouldn’t have a problem serving it to my family.) I’m confident that in addition to a jar of peanut butter, you also have a box of dried pasta on hand. Good! You’re three-quarters of the way to cold sesame noodles, which I’ve always made with peanut butter instead of sesame paste and always will, because peanut better tastes better than sesame paste.
If you’ve got toasted Asian sesame oil or roasted peanut oil in the fridge (where they keep forever), plus soy sauce and a few scallions (which also keep quite well, for vegetables), you are there. Here’s a super-simple recipe for Peanut-Sesame Noodles that you can dress up or down, depending on what your family will bear. You can add shredded cooked chicken if you want, but you don’t have to; it’s got plenty of protein on its own.
Here’s my take on the recipe:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice or white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 pound linguine or spaghetti, cooked and drained
Optional, to taste: sliced scallions, julienned carrots or cucumbers, minced fresh garlic, hot pepper flakes, toasted sesame seeds
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine all of the sauce ingredients except the sesame oil. Whisk them constantly until they’re smooth; then let them cool. Whisk in the sesame oil. Toss the pasta to coat it thoroughly with the sauce; then toss again with as many of the optional ingredients as you want. Serve at room temperature or cold. Serves 2 to 4.
I’ll leave you to figure out a vegetable, just whispering that when my kids were little, sliced apples were considered a perfectly decent side dish on Sesame Noo-Noo nights. And, for dessert? Peanut butter cookies, of course.
The smooth, rich flavor of peanut butter makes these Asian recipes sing: