Saturday, 30 June 2012

Peanutty, Herby Noodle Salad

This is one of those dishes that's positively glowing with health. I don't know what it is about crunchy salads - maybe because you have to work a bit harder to eat them, compared to a big bowl of buttery, cheesy mash? - but you can practically see the halo hovering above the plate. Lots of green veg, a zingy chilli dressing, a few peanuts for texture and enough herbs to make you feel as though it really is summer, dark clouds be damned. I don't care if you tell me this should be low-carb, or there's too much sodium in the soy sauce, or that nothing is healthy if you eat it in huge quantities. Some recipes just feels virtuous and this is one of them. Consider it my concession to bikini season.

Like everything else around here recently, the recipe comes from Hugh F-W's Veg Every Day. My husband was actually the one to suggest it, which I choose to see as a sign of my good influence on him. This is a man who, before I came into his life, never ate nuts, refused to go near dressing, and didn't really see the point of salad - definitely not as a whole meal. But voila! Yes, I do take all the credit. And yes, I may have pointed this out to him once or twice in the course of the meal.

More importantly, he loved it and so did I. It was quick to prepare, if not simple (something about blanching veg always just feels faffy), but the end result was totally worth it. If it had been sunny, we'd have eaten it outside. If it had been sunny and hot, we'd have packed it in a tupperware and taken it on a picnic - with no lettuce or anything wussy like that, I think it would hold up really well. But in the wettest June on record (sigh) we ate it inside, watching 30 Rock, and it was perfect. Another definite do-again from Saint Hugh! I think it's love. 

Peanutty, Herby Noodle Salad
Surprise surprise, it's from Hugh F-W's Veg Every Day

- 150g fine noodles
- 150g green beans
- a cucumber, finely sliced (we did it in the food processor)
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced 
- 2 large handfuls of peanuts (we bought unsalted roasted - if yours aren't roasted, you might want to do so in the oven for 8 mins or so)
- 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- zest and juice of one lemon or lime 
- 1 clove of garlic
- half a red chilli
- a few sprigs of mint, leaves roughly chopped
- if you have them, some basil and coriander, roughly chopped
- (optional) any extra veg you fancy. We added a few broad beans, lightly cooked alongside the green beans, but you could maybe try some finely sliced carrot and pepper? some kind of leaves? broccoli?

Cook the noodles and green beans in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain. Dunk them all in a bowl of cold water, then drain again.

Whiz up the chilli and garlic in the food processor until finely chopped. Then add the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and lemon/lime zest and juice and blitz it all together until well blended.

Toss the noodles in the dressing. Then add all the other veg and herbs and mix until everything's coated in dressing. Serve scattered with peanuts, and with extra soy sauce if you want it.

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