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!