Archive for the 'Pasta + Rice' Category

Sesame Noodles with Made-From-Scratch Chili Oil

Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions

I procured some Sichuan peppercorns following our Chengdu travels two Septembers ago, but left them untouched in the cupboard until stumbling upon this recipe for Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions in the June 2013 issue of Bon Appétit.

What made these noodles something to talk about was the chili oil made from scratch with fresh scallions, crushed red pepper flakes, and tongue-quivering peppercorns. Mixed with tahini, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, the chili oil packed enough heat to make us sweat and imparted the kind of nuanced flavor that kept our chopsticks coming back for more.

I prepared these noodles to accompany a Chinese Wood Ear Mushroom Salad, because man cannot survive on fungus alone. Sharing similar flavor profiles, the two dishes complemented each other and made for a perfectly satisfying vegetarian lunch. Note to self: add broccoli, eggplant, and tofu to the noodles next time around for a well-balanced, one-dish meal.

For the chili oil

  • 4 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan pepper, coarsely ground

For the noodles

  • 24 ounces Chinese wheat noodles (or spaghetti)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions

Cook scallion whites, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and pepper in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, until oil is sizzling and scallions are golden brown, 12–15 minutes.

Sesame Noodles with Chili Oil and Scallions

Let chili oil cool in the saucepan or in a bowl.

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Red Curry Peanut Noodles

Vegetarian Red Curry Peanut Noodles

The Astronomer and I have been staying up later than usual these past few nights securing restaurant reservations in London and France for our European jaunt this summer. Skype-ing in French and stalking Open Table when we should be sleeping has been simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting.

While our dining itinerary isn’t completely settled (there are a few elusive restaurants that I’m still hoping to rope in), we are guaranteed a nose to tail feast in London, exquisite escargots and souffles in Paris, and wines of all stripes at every lunch and dinner. This trip is going to be epic.

In preparation for what will surely be two-and-a-half weeks of non-stop indulging, I’m making a greater effort to eat healthily at home in the month and a half leading up to the trip. This recipe for Red Curry Peanut Noodles from the February 2008 issue of Food & Wine is the latest addition to my solid lineup of meatless meals that pack a satisfying punch.

Peanut noodles are terrific straight up, but add in a few tablespoons of fiery red curry paste and everything gets turned up to eleven. Perking up the noodles is a saucy blend of peanut butter, cilantro, lemongrass, chilies, garlic, galangal, and kaffir lime. The original recipe calls for just bean sprouts and carrots, but I’ve added tofu, red peppers, and edamame too to kick up the nutrition quotient.

Even though I’m buckling down on my eating habits these next few weeks, I still insist that everything that passes through these lips be delicious. Red Curry Peanut Noodles—it’s just what my taste buds and waistline ordered.

  • 1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 1 package extra firm tofu (approximately 19 ounces)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoon red curry paste
  • 2/3 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed cilantro leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 12 ounces shelled edamame, prepared according to package directions
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts quartered and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 carrot, coarsely grated
  • 1 cup mung bean sprouts (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup salted, roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • Lime wedges, for serving

Vegetarian Red Curry Peanut Noodles

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the spaghetti until it is al dente. Drain the spaghetti and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain very well and set aside.

Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes and lay on paper towels to absorb excess moisture. On medium-high heat, saute the tofu in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil for 2-3 minutes on each side to lightly sear the outside and heat the inside. Set aside.

Vegetarian Red Curry Peanut Noodles

Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the peanut butter with the lime juice, red curry paste, stock, and 1/4 cup of the cilantro leaves and puree. Season the sauce with salt.

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Braised Rabbit with Pappardelle

Braised Rabbit with Noodles

The Astronomer and I got married exactly two years ago today, under sunny L.A. skies with our family and friends around us. It was one of the happiest days of my life, one that never fails to put a huge and goofy smile on my face every time I think about it.

With our second anniversary upon us, I wanted to gift The Astronomer something in line with tradition, but with an edible spin. For our first anniversary, I made two varieties of Vietnamese spring rolls, goi cuon and bo bia, to represent paper. Since it is customary to bestow cotton upon one’s beloved in recognition of the second anniversary, I briefly contemplated whipping up some cotton candy, but ultimately decided to prepare a feast of cottontail.

For my first foray into rabbit cookery, I chose this straightforward recipe for Braised Rabbit with Egg Noodles from the May 2003 issue of Gourmet. Braising, a technique that calls for meat to be seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with liquid, practically guarantees moist meat and robust flavors. It sounded like the kind of forgiving recipe that would be ideal for this first timer.

After bathing in an aromatic brew of onions, garlic, orange zest, cinnamon, and red wine, the meat was fork-tender while the sauce was deeply savory with mellow citrus notes. The flavors whisked our taste buds away to the Mediterranean. Dinner was served outside on our picnic table, with snappy asparagus on the side and glasses of red wine to sip. The Astronomer requested seconds.

  • 1 (2 1/2- to 3 1/2-pound) rabbit, cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, halved lengthwise and then cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 (4- by 1-inch) strips fresh orange zest
  • 1 (3- to 4-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water or chicken broth
  • 8 ounces dried pappardelle, tagliatelle, or fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Braised Rabbit with Noodles

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Pat rabbit pieces dry and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a deep 12-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably with a lid) or a 5-quart wide heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown rabbit in 2 batches, turning over once, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer as browned to a plate.

Braised Rabbit with Noodles

Reduce heat to moderate and cook onions, garlic, zest, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves in remaining 2 tablespoons oil, stirring frequently, until onions are beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add wine and deglaze skillet by boiling, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, until wine is reduced by about half, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, water, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

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Soba Noodles with Kale, Tofu, and Furikake

Soba Noodles with Kale, Tofu, and Furikake

You probably wouldn’t recognize me if you saw me eating at home. While I desire a bounteous and decadent spread when dining in restaurants, I want nothing more than straightforward and nutritious fare when I’m not. The internet and my bookshelves are crammed with virtuous recipes and health-conscious eating guides, but not just any fibrous or low-fat dish will do. I demand that it be delicious, too!

My current favorite good-for-me and good-for-my-taste-buds dish is these Soba Noodles with Kale, Tofu, and Furikake from Diane of Appetite for China. What I really like about this recipe is that even though the ratio of vegetables to noodles is skewed towards the former, it doesn’t taste like bowl of rabbit food. I’ve never been much of a salad-eating gal.

The key is the well-balanced dressing made of soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions, rice vinegar, and honey that paints every surface and ties all the elements together. And then there’s the furikake, a delightful Japanese condiment made of seaweed, sesame seeds, salt, and sugar that excites the tongue with a dose of umami.

This dish tastes great, is easy to make, and satisfies in every way. I want nothing more when I’m eating at home.

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 scallion stalks, thinly sliced
  • 10 ounces kale, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 3-4 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 package extra firm tofu (approximately 19 ounces)
  • 12 ounces dried soba noodles, prepared according to instructions on package
  • Furikake

Soba Noodles with Kale, Tofu, and Furikake

In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, vinegar, honey, and scallions. Let the sauce marry while you prepare the other ingredients.

Soba Noodles with Kale, Tofu, and Furikake

For the kale, bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add the kale leaves and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water, then squeeze out the excess water. Set aside.

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