Peanut sauce is a really awesome thing to have on hand. It comes together quickly, it’s cheap, and it can be used in many ways — as a dip for fresh vegetables, as a dressing for a salad or slaw (thin it out a bit first), or tossed with some cold noodles for a delicious summertime meal.
The proportions for peanut sauce are simple: 2 parts peanut butter to 1 part each soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. This will make a pretty strong peanut sauce – fairly salty and vinegary – but when you’re using it as a dressing, that’s what you want (remember also that it will be served cold, so the flavors need to be a bit stronger for them to pop). Some people add ginger and/or garlic to their peanut sauce, which is good but not required.
I like to assemble my sauce in a mason jar, like I do with pizza sauce:
For tonight’s dinner, I thawed out a few chicken tenderloins, marinated them in soy sauce, Sriracha, and honey, and broiled them until lightly browned. You can easily substitute fish (salmon is great, and I’ve even had good results with tilapia) or just leave the meat out.
As with other pasta salads, I like to cook the spaghetti a little past al dente for this, because it all gets a little chewier when it’s cold. You also get to break a MAJOR pasta rule by rinsing the noodles in cold water immediately after cooking.
As for the vegetables, I’m using what we had on hand (some red bell peppers that were about to go bad and a small bag of snow peas from the Asian grocery, plus some carrot). You can also use thinly sliced cabbage, chopped cucumber, even celery. I lightly stir fried the vegetables to take some of the bite off, but for softer and/or more tender veggies, you can omit this step.
Peanut Noodles with Sriracha-Glazed Chicken
note: this recipe will leave you with about 3/4 cup extra peanut sauce leftover. It will keep, well-covered in the fridge, for about a week or two.
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
Noodles and Chicken
- about 8-12 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts or tenderloins
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 pound dried spaghetti or linguine
- about 4 cups thinly sliced vegetables, such as bell peppers, snow peas, cabbage, and carrots
- 1 small bunch of scallions, sliced thin (use the white and green parts together)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup peanuts
For the peanut sauce: mix all ingredients together in a small bowl, adding 2-3 tablespoons of water. Set aside.
For the chicken: If using chicken breasts, cut each breast into 2-3 strips lengthwise (if using tenderloins, do not cut). Combine with Sriracha, honey, and soy sauce and marinate, covered, for 10 – 30 minutes. Preheat the broiler to high and set an oven rack about 6 inches away. Place the chicken on a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and broil, turning once, until lightly browned and cooked through (about 4-5 minutes per side). Set aside to cool, then cut into chunks.
For the noodles: While the chicken is marinating, cook pasta in boiling water. Drain, rinse well in cold water, and drain again. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the peanut sauce and set aside.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the vegetables (not the scallions) and 1 tablespoon of oil. Cook, stirring frequently, until barely tender, about 1-2 minutes. Remove to the bowl with the noodles.
Toss the noodles, vegetables, scallions, cut up chicken, and most of the peanuts with about 1/2 cup more of the peanut sauce (add peanut sauce to taste – it may need more or less). Set aside to cool and serve chilled or at room temperature, garnished with peanuts.