Saturday, April 13, 2013

Peanut Sauce Noodles with Kale Rabe

The Lane County Farmers Market is now in full swing. Today I found the tenderest baby radishes and carrots and this vibrant green kale rabe. The name is inspired by broccoli rabe, but really just refers to bolting kale. One of my husband's specialties is peanut sauce noodles, which we usually serve with broccoli rabe and crunchy cucumber sticks. For this evening's version we used blanched kale rabe (cooked in a separate pot from the noodles to accommodate picky eaters) with spring radishes and carrots for crunch. A delicious spring meal.

Peanut Sauce Noodles
(serves four)

for the sauce
1 inch ginger
1 shallot
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp canola oil
drizzle of hot chili oil
1/4 cup peanut butter (preferably from ground peanuts)
1/4 cup tahini
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar
2 Tbsp rice wine
2 tsp soy sauce
~1 cup water to thin the sauce
a drizzle of sesame oil
Sichuan pepper corns, freshly ground

1 package udon noodles
1 bunch broccoli rabe or kale rabe

for garnish
bean sprouts
lime wedges
cucumber sticks
other crunchy vegetables such as radishes or carrots
Sriracha sauce

1. Set a pot of salted water to boil for the noodles. If cooking separately, also set a pot of salted water to boil for the greens. Rinse the greens, trim off the thickest part of the stems and cut the rest of the stems into 1 inch sticks and rough chop the leaves.

2. Peel and finely mince the ginger, shallots, and garlic. You can do this quickly in a mini food processor. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the canola oil and chili oil and saute the minced aromatics until soft. Add the peanut butter and tahini, sugar, black vinegar, rice wine, and soy sauce. Mix and simmer over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Add water as needed to thin to the desired consistency. Taste and add more soy, sugar, or vinegar as needed. When the sauce is ready, add a drizzle of sesame oil and freshly ground Sichuan pepper corns to taste, and remove from heat. 

3. When the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook according to the package directions. You can add the greens to the pot when there are five minutes remaining for the noodles. Or blanch the greens in a separate pot for about five minutes. 

4. Toss the cooked noodles (and greens if combining) with the peanut sauce. Serve the noodles with all the garnishes for people to add to their plates as they like.

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