Saturday, February 20, 2010
Remember the days of your youth when you were stuck in a church basement amongst a sea of cold pasta salads and random vegetables such as carrots and celery that were mysteriously encased in jello?
Whenever I hear the words "cold salad" I think exactly of that. That is, up until now.
I'm a sucker for Thai food. The peanut sauces, the ginger, garlic, cilantro and richness of the flavors are what inevitably bring me running back for more.
The original recipe calls for soba noodles, which are not gluten free, so instead I substituted quinoa spaghetti.
Let's talk about quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah").
Referred to as "The Mother Grain" by the Incas (who were so amazed by it's benefits that they held it to be sacred), quinoa is very high in protein, contains a balanced set of amino acids making it a complete protein, and is also high in fiber, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron. Not only is quinoa gluten free, but it is also low-glycemic making it an excellent choice for diabetics.
When prepared in it's natural state, quinoa has mild, slightly nutty flavor and it's texture is light and fluffy making it an excellent (and more nutritional) stand in for couscous or rice. (Stay tuned for more recipes containing quinoa!)
But when it comes down to it, the sauce in this recipe is the kicker. The creaminess of the peanut butter along with the sassiness of the ginger, garlic, and cilantro make me want to pack my bags, convert to Buddhism and move to Thailand. It's just that good.
So the next time you find yourself looking for a cold salad to bring to a picnic or a party, (church basement optional) give this one a whirl...You won't regret it!
Recipe, in part, by Melynda Saldenais as published in the Whole Foods Market flyer
1 8 oz package quinoa spaghetti
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
1 Tbs agave nectar or maple syrup
1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
2 tsp tamari
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 Tbs lime juice
1 tsp fresh lime zest
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced(1 1/2 cups)
1 small red bell pepper, sliced (1 cup)
1 large carrot, grated (1/2 cup)
2 Tbs chopped peanuts, optional
Cook noodles according to package. Rinse under cold water, drain.
Puree peanut butter, vinegar, agave nectar, ginger, tamari, garlic, lime juice, lime zest, and 1/4 cup cilantro in blender until smooth, adding 2 to 3 Tbs warm water to thin, if necessary.
Toss together noodles, veggies, and peanut butter mixture. Garnish with remaining cilantro and peanuts, if using.