One of my guilty-favorite dishes is noodles with a spicy peanut sauce. I’m not sure how Asian restaurants make it, but I have to imagine that it’s got a lot of peanut butter (almost certainly not organic all-natural peanut butter), sesame or other oil, sugar and other ingredients that I don’t use a lot of when I cook at home. That’s fine once in a while, but I decided to try a healthier version that I can make at home.
When I was camping with friends a couple of weeks ago, the topic of freshly-ground almond butter as a substitute for store-bought peanut butter came up. I’d never tried it, so on my last trip to Whole Foods, I purchased a small container to try. It was really satisfying just pushing a button on a machine and watching roasted almonds turn into freshly-ground almond butter almost instantaneously. I tried it when I got home and discovered that I really like it.
Since I had almond-butter on-hand I used that in the dressing instead of peanut butter. I wanted to use enough to add flavor and a thicker texture to the dressing, but didn’t want it to overwhelm the other ingredients. I added rice and cider vinegar, tamari (soy sauce would also be fine, but I like the rich flavor of tamari), fresh lime juice, a little bit of honey and sriracha chili sauce. This definitely has a different balance of flavors than the peanut sauce that is typically served with noodles, but I liked the flavor that extra vinegar and lime juice added to the sauce. I used a full teaspoon of sriracha, which made the sauce pretty spicy – just the way I like it.
I served this over (cold) brown rice spaghetti and some some vegetables that I had on-hand: edamame, snow-peas and carrots. I made just enough for a lunch-time salad, but made extra pasta, vegetables, and dressing. I’m storing each of these components separately so that the pasta doesn’t absorb all of the dressing before I’m ready to eat more. It’s a simple matter to toss it all together at the last minute. Sometimes the pasta (which I store in a zip-top bag) gets a little sticky, but if you gently toss it with the dressing it will separate and be as good as new.
For the dressing combine in a small bowl:
- 2 Tbsp. almond butter (preferably freshly ground)
- 1/4 cup natural rice vinegar (not seasoned)
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar (preferably unfiltered)
- 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. honey (preferably local)
- juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
- sriracha chili sauce or other hot sauce to taste (I used 1 tsp. of sriracha, which made the dressing very spicy)
Serve dressing over:
- pasta, cooked according to package directions (I like to use brown rice spaghetti)
- vegetables according to your taste (I used frozen edamame, cooked according to package directions, snow peas cut into bite-size pieces and carrots cut into small matchsticks)