I don’t like to mess with existentialism this early in the morning.  But let me ask you a question.

Creamy vs. crunchy.  Which would you choose?


Now, don’t answer right away.  I want you to really give this some thought.  Weigh your options.

This is a highly volatile question, after all.  The answers to which have been known to get people divorced, thrown out of bars, and challenged to many a throwdown.

I, personally, try to stay out of throwdowns as much as possible.  Sometimes, it’s inevitable. however.  Like when someone answers “neither”.

Them’s fighting words.


Now.  Let me be straight with you.  Although I can be decisive about many things, when it comes to peanut butter.  I’m a flip flopper.

I could stand in the aisles at Whole Foods for hours, vacillating between textures.  Writing lists of pros and cons.  Pacing back and forth until people start to notice and call in a local authority who kindly informs me that, um yes it’s closing time and not only that but I’m kinda sorta making people nervous so could I please hightail it out of there before he has to give me a citation for disturbing the peace?

And then, usually I’m under such duress that I really shouldn’t be making any life altering decisions (and, to be fair, what is more life altering than choosing which jar of peanut butter to bring home?  That shit can make or break your day.  Like I said before, do not take this lightly.)

So in the state of panic that I inevitably find myself in.

I take one of each.

And in the end, I like to think I come home doubly content.  Because two jars of peanut butter is always better than one, don’t you think?


When I saw that this week’s theme for I Heart Cooking Clubs was “Creamy vs. Crunchy”, there was no doubt in my mind that peanut butter had to be involved somehow.  Hence, these cold peanut noodles, which are sweet, salty, spicy, and utterly delicious.

I’m pretty sure that you could use either creamy or crunchy peanut butter for the sauce, depending on the texture you’re going for.  I used creamy.  But only because I finished my jar of crunchy last week.  If that hadn’t been the case…  Well.  Let’s not go there.  I wouldn’t want to inundate myself with this much mental confliction this early in the morning.  Especially not when I have a day of functional neuroanatomy ahead of me.

Cold Peanut Noodles (with Eggplant and Red Pepper)
Serves 4, adapted from Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian

1 lb linguine (Bittman calls for fresh Chinese egg noodles but I couldn’t find any)
2 tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 tbsp rice vinegar
tabasco sauce, to taste
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 eggplant, cut into strips
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
scallion or cilantro to garnish

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it.  Cut the veggies and saute them in a nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkled with a bit of salt while the water is boiling.  Stir occasionally.  Saute until eggplant is cooked through, then set aside.

2. When the water comes to a boil, cook the pasta until it is tender but not mushy – AL DENTE!  While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the sesame oil, peanut butter, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, vinegar, tabasco, and black pepper in a large bowl.  Thin the sauce with some of the hot pasta water so that it’s about the consistency of heavy cream.  I used about 1/2 cup.  When the pasta is done, drain it and run it under cold water.  Drain again.

3. Toss the noodles with the sauce and veggies.  Taste, add salt if necessary, then garnish and serve.

This is my submission to this week’s I Heart Cooking Club as well as to Presto Pasta Nights, which is being hosted by Nic of Lemon and Cheese.  I am also linking it to Meatless Mondays hosted by the lovely Chaya of My Sweet and Savory!


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at https://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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104 Responses to Bittman’s Cold Peanut Noodles with Eggplant and Red Pepper

  1. Simply Life says:

    Ha, can I just choose this dish? 🙂

  2. Megan says:

    I pick creamy, my husband picks crunchy. We can barely leave the grocery store together sometimes…haha! This looks like one I’ve got to try! Yum!

  3. Kim says:

    When I first heard our theme was crunchy vs. creamy my thoughts went directly to peanut butter too! I’m happy that you chose peanut butter as an ingredient in this week’s recipe. It’s the ultimate in crunchy vs. creamy.

    I love cold peanut noodles. I could probably eat my weight in it, which is definitely a dangerous thing!

    Have a great labor day weekend!

  4. Luigi says:

    Oh I love the sound of this! But using linguine, is that not treasonable? lol

    All the same, stunning recipe, will have to try it. 🙂

    Enjoy your long weekend!

  5. Katie says:

    I always buy one of each, too. But then I stand in front of the pantry for hours figuring out which one to open first.

  6. I am a smooth peanut butter gal all the way, no question at all. I just received an e-mail to try whipped peanut butter…even BETTER!!!Crunchy make perfect peanut butter cookies:D

  7. A super delicious bowl of noodles, love the addition of eggplant!

  8. Dawn says:

    You can never have enough peanut butter I always say. I have to go with both too. I usually get creamy but I wouldn’t turn a spoon of crunchy away.

  9. That is one pretty dish (and Jackie loves your nails)

  10. Radhika says:

    I would like my dish to be both creamy and crunchy 😉 Love this simple and creamy dish you whipped out of peanut butter. YUMM.

  11. It is a must in our house to stock both! One daughter will only eat creamy & one will only eat crunchy!! BTW, your nails look beautiful too.

  12. yummy!!i can have that whole bowl of noodles,

  13. Julie says:

    can i choose “creamuncy”? hahaha thats a big question i can’t choose!!!

    um i support a date where you cook for me and i stand and drool. other then that we need a meetup 🙂

  14. I am 100% a creamy pb kind of girl… unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for my waistline) my boyfriend is allergic, so I don’t have any in the apartment.

    I would love to try this out, though! Maybe it’s time for a trip to my mom’s house so I can use her kitchen 🙂

  15. Yosha says:

    I am on the “either” camp! All PB is good pb I say! Do you use natural PB for this or is Kraft good enough? Errmmm am i the only one using kraft still?

    Pefect timing for this recipe. I am hoping to throw a bbq this weekend. Can prep the pasta, sauce ahead, grilled the veggies toss and done. Yay!

  16. I love cold Asian-inspired noodles! But I’ve never been able to make them successfully. I might add egg noodles to the grocery list and make them over the weekend to dip into for work/school lunches over the week. No microwave? No problem.

    Regarding the crunchy vs. creamy debate: Creamy spreads and melts better on toast, but crunchy adds texture to cookies. You can’t dip apple slices into crunchy very well, but just slopping creamy into oatmeal is really boring. So my solution is like yours: get both!

  17. elra says:

    I really like this two combination. Eggplant and red bell pepper always sounds so good together.

  18. Rachana says:

    A delicious bowl of noodles!

  19. Biren says:

    I’ve not used peanut butter in a dressing for noodles but it sure sounds good. I love peanut butter and I have a hard time deciding which I like better 🙂

  20. Katerina says:

    Eggplant and pasta is the perfect combination. I love it. You put another one dilemma in my altogether puzzled life, so I choose both crunchy and cramy, depending on the case.

  21. Dana says:

    I love that kind of dish – any kind of Asian noodles are my friends. I’m a crunch gal but I always have both on hand – you can never be sure what craving is going to strike!

  22. Hannah says:

    I’m with you here- I like both crunchy and creamy. It really depends on the peanut butter’s final destination, and what sort of mood I’m in. More often than not though, I tend to lean towards crunchy. Just love that extra texture. 🙂

  23. Great choice. I would love to make this, in the future. It has all the elements.

  24. Chef Dennis says:

    when I was younger it was crunchy! Now I find myself using creamy…..sigh….yes I still do have all my teeth! thanks for another great post!
    I do love your pictures!

  25. Amy says:

    “Neither”…that’s as bad as “I don’t care.” Who are these people? Everyone has a preference. Everyone.

    Sigh. I miss peanut butter. We don’t even keep it in the house since Haley’s allergy was detected. But I’ve grown accustomed to substituting sunflower butter in place of PB in just about everything. It’s not always a hit, but it’s better than nothing.

    I would have snagged a container of each too. Sometimes you feel like creamy and sometimes you need the crunch. But for the record, I prefer the crunchy.

  26. Definitely crunchy peanut butter!
    I’m so glad I stumbled on your site–gorgeous photography, and I love the “internationality” of your recipes. Mmmmmm.

  27. Lea Ann says:

    This recipe looks really good. I’ve had something similar to this and loved it. Creamy! And love your nails by the way. 🙂

  28. Ameena says:

    Love eggplant, love tomatoes, love noodles, love ginger…this dish looks fantastic!

    I miss peanut butter too…allergies, how I hate them.

    I prefer crunchy for most everything…I love carbs!!

  29. Mo says:

    Peanut butter sauce on noodles is amazing, no matter what the texture is. 😉

    I usually by creamy peanut butter, because for some reason biting down on nuts skeeves me out. The thing is, the way I usually consume peanut butter is on a spoon. But Crunchy PB & J sandwiches are amazing, for sure. 🙂 I’m weird and undecided I guess. XD

  30. Cristie says:

    Oh, this sounds wonderful. I have to make this, really this is going to be made this weekend. I have both in my cupboard– too many recipes call for specifics. But I eat my peanutbutter crunchy.

  31. Kelsey says:

    mmm a good excuse for me to use my new peanut butter 🙂 can u teach me how to use chop sticks tho haha. my friend from japan was out here last year and he tried for an hour to get me to master the chops but i still cant get it! wth lol.
    ur scrumptious noodles look delightful my dear <3

  32. Wonderful bowl of noodles. Love the addition of the eggplant. In peanut butter…creamy all the way. Although, in my house I actually have to buy both, because my wife likes crunchy. Lawyers…

  33. Mary says:

    I’m a crunchy person. I think life should have a little bit. Your noodles are to die for. Have a great weekend. Blessings…Mary

  34. teresa says:

    this is one of my favorite ways to use peanut butter, it’s SO good in noodle dishes. your post, as always, had me smiling!

  35. I’ve always been a creamy peanut butter gal – especially for bread and toasts. In a recipe like this, though, I’d have to go crunchy!

    Love the nail art 🙂

  36. Pam says:


    This dish looks much better than the sandwich I just ate. Yum!

  37. Shannon says:

    crunchy, i’m all about the nuts 😉 this looks awesome!! and about the only time i don’t think two jars is better than one is if i’m consuming them at a rate of 1 jar/week. then i need to take a step back. (that’s this week, by the way!)

  38. Faith says:

    It’s funny as a kid I always picked crunchy but now I always go for creamy. I agree, “neither” is fighting words, lol!

  39. Stella says:

    I’d have to say I am both a creamy & a crunchy type-it’s a mood thing, you know? Ooh, I hope those aren’t fightin’ words (smile). Hee hee…
    These noodles with creamy peanut sauce sound delicious, Joanne. Now I know you would love cashew cream *wink*
    p.s I’ve been meaning to get my hands on the Veganomicon cookbook! Soon.

  40. RamblingTart says:

    Oh mercy me, Joanne!! These look SO ridiculously good. 🙂 I have to stay away from peanuts while I detox, but oh my, as soon as I can have them again, I WANT THESE NOODLES!! 🙂

  41. Victoria K. says:

    I love cold peanut noodles!! Delicious!

  42. Beautiful!
    Great minds and all – I chose to do the sesame noodles. What are the odds?!
    Love the peanutty dilemma. We are *both* people too. Depending on our moods…

  43. Elizabeth says:

    Creamy! Crunchy PB requires more effort, an extra jaw movement or two — more calories are burned. Creamy = comfort food. This recipe is perfect “hot weather” fare. De-lish!

  44. Raina says:

    Yum! Peanut sauce sounds wonderful! Great dish! Decisions, decisions….I like both creamy and crunchy, but if I had to choose it would be creamy:)

  45. Debinhawaii says:

    I am exactly the same when it comes to PB–a jar or more of both is always the best way to go. Your noodles look delicious–cold and nutty noodles are one of my favorite dinners. 😉

  46. LOVE peanut noodles! As for crunchy vs. smooth it totally depends on the dish! Since the eggplant, noodles, and peppers are all squishy I would probably use crunchy peanut butter here for the texture and crrrrruuuunch!

  47. Joanne, I am like you- I like both and I pick which one to eat according my mood and preference of the moment! You have just reminded me of a recipe that uses crunchy peanut butter. Your noodles looks delicious!

  48. This peanut butter noodle recipe sounds awesome. I am a crunchy girl when it comes to my PB. But you know what….as long as it is peanut butter i’ll take it any time & anywhere. xo

  49. Megan says:

    Made this tonight and it was super good! Thanks so much for the great recipe!

  50. Julie says:

    I want these. Like right now. I vote for “both” too.

  51. This is so awesome Joanne..i love eggplants and this is such a wonderful concoction.

  52. I generally go for creamy, but sometimes I’m all about the crunchy. This? This just plain looks amazing!


  53. I mostly a creamy girl, but I wouldn’t say no if a jar of crunchy propositioned me. LOVE PB noodles of all types. I think crunchy would be nice here too since it’s like a built-in chopped peanut garnish :).

  54. Crunchy all the way. Even if a recipe calls for creamy, it’s highly doubtful that I will use it. What’s the difference if it has chunks?

    Funny, as soon as I saw creamy or crunchy, I totally thought of peanut butter!

    I’ve been making PB2 powder and THAT is only creamy. Which is okay because I like to put it in oatmeal or yogurt.

  55. Chris says:

    Is that an “F U” on your right pinky, Joanne “Don’t Call Me Lohan” Bruno? (Just kidding)

    I’m definitely a chunky guy but as a family of 4 we are split 50/50 so we always have both. But neither jar comes with a bowl full of awesome noodleness like this.

  56. Monet says:

    Lovely dish. Peanuts and pasta were made to go through life together hand in hand. And I flip-flop too! I love creamy with my apples but crunchy on my bread. Have a great weekend love!

  57. I never had eggplants in my noodles before… creamy or crunchy.. hmm that is the question haha!

  58. MaryMoh says:

    Great idea just to buy 2 bottle…..save time and stress…haha. If I have time to spare, I’ll stand there for half an hour looking at each one and keep asking myself, ‘Which one?’ 😀 If I don’t have time, I’ll just grab 2 and go. Thank goodness there are only 2 types of peanut butter…creamy or crunchy! 😀 Love your dish…love that it’s flavourful ad spicy….mmm. Hope you have a fun weekend. Mary

  59. Barbara says:

    As far as pb is concerned, I like crunchy. Never can have enough pb in the pantry!
    But as far as food is concerned, can’t I have creamy AND crunchy?
    I love, love, love this recipe, Joanne! Mainly because eggplant in a pasta is delish!

  60. Big Dude says:

    This dish sounds very interesting. I just read your post about focaccia at Our Krazy Kitchen, and glad to know how much your taste have changed – I had a kid like that. The bread sounds delicious and it one of our favorites. First time reading your blog and I’ll br back – I enjoy your writing.

  61. I want and like both. ;-))
    Peanut noodles look fabulous!

  62. newlywed says:

    I like both too. And I agree with the other commenters…the addition of the eggplant is brilliant here! Especially since without a lot of veggies, peanut noodles can get a little heavy.

  63. girlichef says:

    oh yum! I totally choose both. This looks flippin’ amazing…I’m sooooo hungry. Right this minute. I could gobble the whole bowl up!

  64. Pierce says:

    I need to pick up some eggplant today!

  65. I like eating my gado-gado and pecel with noodle or pasta too.

    Also for peanut butter, I just went to the natural health store that has a peanut grinder, then I just grind my peanuts there.

  66. Cathy says:

    That looks wonderfully delicious! I’m going to try that myself! I love peanut sauces – seems very “Thai-ish”

  67. OMG i have that issue too!!! i love cashew butter, despite it not being crunchy.dare i say i love it more tahn almond butter?

    but crunchy vvs creamy. i think me and j.c. might have to have a discussion about this one.

    he’s coming to stay over for a bit. our month long anniversary is coming up! 🙂

  68. sounds perfect! have a lovely weekend 🙂

    xo Alison

  69. Hi Jo
    I’ve noticed ou use quite a lot of eggplant in your cooking..me too..just love them..dish looks delicious…

  70. pajamachef says:

    both! we have about 3 jars open now. creamy, crunchy, and honey roasted. oh, and natural creamy. 4! crazy. but delicious.

  71. Kristen says:

    When eating a pb&j, it Has to be creamy. No question. However, in cookies and savory meals, crunchy is just fine. Those noodles looks like a great meal any time of the day…I love dinner for breakfast just as much as I love breakfast for dinner!

  72. Reeni says:

    I sincerely love both too! It’s best not to decide and do what you did. These noodles totally rock! Love that they have eggplant. Don’t think I ever had it with PB but it sounds enticing.

  73. creamy on bread/toast and crunchy for noodles etc 😀

  74. theUngourmet says:

    Picking up a jar of each is a brilliant plan! I love crunchy and my kids love creamy. Why didn’t I ever think of this? Nice noodles!

  75. What about another kind of butter – say almond butter or cashew butter? Just because. Love cold noodles with any old butter!


  76. sophia says:

    Joanne. If I ever have a hubby, he better fight it out with me till divorce over the debate of crunchy vs. creamy. because THAT would prove that he is worthy of me…because he is just as crazy as I am. Yup.

    CREAMY almond butter for me. CRUNCHY peanut butter for me. End of story.

  77. grace says:

    don’t get me started on my inability to make decisions–it’s disgusting. what you’ve made here, however, is the opposite of disgusting–well done!

  78. Rena says:

    Yum! This looks delicious and yet another dish where I can use eggplant! yay.

  79. Crunchy peanut butter is gross! So I’m glad you used creamy in this because now it looks completely and utterly appetizing and delicious whereas I think I would have been unfortunately biased had you used crunchy.

    Btw, I am now back in good ol’ NYC buuuuut my life is somewhat of a nightmare and I don’t know that I’ll ever see you. What’s your schedule like? Tuesdays and Thursdays I get out before 8pm so.. yeah. Holler.

  80. I definitely prefer crunchy over creamy. I like texture in my food and smooth just doesn’t do it for me. I so rarely cook with peanut butter, but this noodle salad looks fantastic! Love tabasco sauce, but I might have to throw in some Sriracha just to give it that added kick.

  81. 🙂 i know about the interview. i’m a bit nervous!

    anyways, yeah, i feel you on the anorexic thoughts. they’re still there, but overcoming and healing is a process, and i still get them, but i’ve learned what is real and what isn’t. J.C. cares about me, and doesn’t care about how i look or whatever. he also knows about it, and he knows what not to say and etc.
    glad you loved the step by step process. i’m shaking it up! 🙂

  82. If my existential thoughts centered around food only, I would be in good shape! No seriously, I don’t see why one would have to pick one or the other; I love that pasta dish because it is so unusual and far from what I am in the habit of eating and making.

  83. Maria says:

    Delicious! Sesame oil gives such a beautiful fragrance to noodle dishes!

  84. Carolyn Jung says:

    Can I choose both? Hah. I guess that would be wrong. Well, truth be told, we always have the creamy variety in our house, even though I do love the crunch of any kind of nuts.

  85. This is a great recipe to link to My Meatless Mondays and you would make all my readers, so happy. Pleeze.

  86. I teach high school English, and in an introductory debate unit, let my students choose their own topics to debate as a full class. Crunchy vs. creamy peanut butter was the most passionate discussion we had all year! It was debated all over the school…with some amazing support from both sides!!

  87. Lynn says:

    Yum. I would seriously love this dish, no matter what kind of peanut butter you used.

  88. cocinadiary says:

    beautiful dish. I would lvoe to try this dish because I am not too asian culinary oriented. We would love to have you join us at Mondays at One Food Club. Angie

  89. Lele says:

    I am definitely a flip flopper. For me, the more variety the better. I think it’s cause I’m a Libra- we’re indecisive!

  90. PJ says:

    noodles look so delicious, Joanne! and yes, crunchy it is for me.

  91. sweetlife says:

    I love this dish and using linguine, even better…I personally enjoy both and always buy both…

  92. Jessie says:

    Wait, you mean most people DON’T stand in front of the peanut butter section of Whole Foods, vacillating like some sort of wacky satellite?? I would be willing to spend time searching for the perfect PB to make these delicious noodles. BTW, you have the coolest nails evah!

    Also, I love me some creamy. Mmm.

  93. tigerfish says:

    I know I know! It’s hard to choose. I will get both too 🙂

  94. Dan says:

    I may have missed the window to serve this cold (temperature dropped this weekend) but I imagine it still tastes fabulous warm!

  95. Eliana says:

    You’re so mean – why are you making me chose? Why can’t I have both, especially since I have both in my cupboard right now.

  96. Lori says:

    I love anything with peanut sauce and this noodle dish looks outstanding.

  97. Flip a coin? These yummy noodles would be great with either!

  98. yepiatethat says:

    Wow. I can’t believe I’ve been away from your blog for a week (no internet!!) and you posted this… I wrote a post just the other day about my obsession with peanut butter.

    These, of course, look amazing… bet they would be great for a beach day later this week

  99. Marisa says:

    I think you made the right choice there. Although personally I have to say I lean more towards the crunchy side. And I’d love to take a crunch out of that bowl of noodles right about now. It’s almost supper time!

  100. Nic says:

    I’d chose creamy! This looks like a delicious dish and your photography is gorgeous.

    Thank you for entering it into this weeks Presto Pasta Nights

  101. Elizabeth says:

    Do I have to choose? Really?

    Okay okay:
    creamy for making peanut butter cookies
    crunchy for everything else

    But please make my peanut butter be made with roasted peanuts and salt only. (I loathe it when it’s laced with sugar.)

    But now I’m not sure whether I’d use creamy or crunchy for these noodles. Yours look awfully good! Clearly, if pictures don’t lie, creamy is the right choice. (I love these kind of noodles!!)

  102. Peanut sauce on noodles is seriously one of the most delicious things. Peanut sauce in general actually. I ALWAYS buy creamy peanut butter, but I love crunchy bits of peanuts on top of noodles. I think creamy peanut butter is just more versatile, like unsalted butter.

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