Archive for the 'Pasta + Rice' Category

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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Scott Conant’s Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil

Scott Conant's Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil Sauce

After perusing my recent post about brunching at Scarpetta, my brother emailed me a recipe for Chef Scott Conant’s famous spaghetti. Unlike the fussy versions I’d previously seen across the Internet, this one was noticeably simpler and even called for fewer than ten ingredients.

Published in New York Magazine in 2003, this recipe is originally from the kitchen of L’Impero, where Chef Conant cooked before opening Scarpetta. Due to the straightforward nature of the ingredients and instructions, I was skeptical that it would be able to recreate the true majesty of the original dish. My brother assured me that he had prepared it himself and that the results were identical to the plate of noodles once dished up at L’Impero and now Scarpetta.

I remained a skeptic up until the moment when the sauce began to come together. As I crushed the fresh tomatoes, melding them with the scorching olive oil, the smells and flavors wafting in the air were wholly familiar. Once I added in the basil, butter, and Parmigiano-Reggiano, and saw how tightly the chunky sauce clung to the strands of spaghetti, I knew for certain that my brother had not led me astray.

“He’s getting a roundness of flavor and nuance of sweetness that amount to pure Mediterranean bliss,” waxed Frank Bruni about the spaghetti in his three-star review of Scarpetta in 2008. This recipe captures the bliss that Mr. Bruni spoke of, as well as a subtle richness and gentle tanginess. It’s definitely the real deal.

  • 1⁄2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 30 fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded [See “How to Peel Tomatoes” tutorial]
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 1⁄2 pounds dried spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 24 basil leaves, cut into a fine chiffonade
  • 1⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Scott Conant's Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil Sauce

Add the olive oil to a pan and heat until it begins to smoke lightly. Add the tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and the red-pepper flakes.

This step can get messy, especially when the tomatoes hit the oil, so use a lid to shield yourself and the stove top. Remove the lid once the tomatoes have settled into the heat.

Scott Conant's Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil Sauce

Crush the tomatoes with a potato masher, or a wire whisk, to release all their liquid. Cook for 25 minutes over medium to medium-high heat, until the tomatoes form a semi-chunky sauce.

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