Sunday, January 10, 2010
Linguini with Peanut Sauce
This sauce is a staple for me in the summer, when I have fresh snow peas or sugar snaps, and new scallions or onion tops. I add cucumbers as soon as they come in. But it's a great winter dish too. I save myself the expense of buying scallions unless it's a major component of a dish, and instead let some onions grow tops on the counter. I take a green leaf from 2 or 3 onions and mince them for a little taste of summer. In winter the peas to use are frozen petite pois, just thawed in warm water. I keep them on hand to add to salads and stir fries, and always add them at the last minute without cooking them.
I don't usually measure ingredients for this sauce, but just start with a big spoon of peanut butter and add the other ingredients to taste. I wanted to give you a recipe so I measured this time, and it came out just the way I like it. Start with these amounts and adjust til it's to your liking too.
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1/2 cup water
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
>1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Add julienned cukes,
fresh snow peas or sugar snaps, or frozen green peas
Enough for 8 ounces of linguini or more. This sauce will keep in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks. It's only the freshly grated ginger that would conceivably spoil.
I suppose this will work with processed peanut butter, but if you aren't using natural peanut butter (ground peanuts and salt) then you're missing out on a healthy treat. I use Hannaford's store brand.
Add just a Tablespoon or two of water to the peanut butter to begin with, beating it with a fork. The peanut butter will darken and seize up the way melted chocolate will if a drop of water hits it. As you add the next water it will suddenly start to turn light and creamy.
I like Sushi Chef brand sesame oil best, and find there's quite a bit of difference in brands. This is not a dish that needs a lot of soy sauce. If it's not salty enough for you then add salt separately. Besides adding flavor the ginger adds heat. Adjust the ginger, hot pepper, and garlic to your level of heat. You won't find these amounts I've given you to be too hot. You can use fresh garlic of course, but it's harder to disperse evenly to flavor the whole dish, and fresh raw garlic can overwhelm in a way that garlic powder usually does not.
As the sauce sits it keeps getting thicker, and it will do this on the pasta, too. I used to think the pasta was absorbing the water from the sauce, but I think it's mostly that the starch in the peanut butter is absorbing the water and jelling, so that as time goes on you need to add more water. It should have the consistency of heavy cream when you add it to the pasta. If I dress this and don't eat it right away (as in my bento box, or if there are leftovers) it will usually need a few drops of water added before I eat it. No problem. Some people like it sticky though. Up to you. I like this best when the linguini is just made and still warm.
The plate is Bennington Pottery blue agate stoneware