A healthy diet doesn’t have to be boring, nor does it mean having to give up all your favorite foods. Despite all the doom and gloom about the evils of carbs, pasta can be a delicious and nutritious part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s all about the sauce and the portion size.
These deliciously spicy Thai noodles are packed with flavor and nutrition to help you kick start – and stick with – your New Year’s resolutions. The high-quality protein from the peanuts satisfies your hunger while the slow-burning carbs from the pasta keep your energy level strong and steady for hours. The Thai ingredients are both sweet and salty without being gooey. The result is a delectably rich and savory pasta dish – made without any cream or butter – that you can feel good about serving. Plus they taste amazing!
The secret to this healthy comfort food comes from the spiciness of the hot red curry paste. The heat actually forces you to slow down and savor every delicious bite. That means a smaller portion is incredibly satisfying, and will help keep you on track while filling you up.
Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles Recipe
Serves 4 for dinner, 6 for lunch and 8 as a side or snack.
Note: I prefer to use organic, low-sodium and no-sugar added ingredients whenever possible so I can control the sugar and sodium content. If you use regular peanut butter, soy sauce and chicken stock, adjust the recipe by using half as much soy sauce and honey.
- 1 pound of linguini pasta (try whole wheat pasta for an added nutritional boost – with this sauce, no one can tell the difference!)
- 2 heaping tablespoons of salt for pasta water
- 3-4 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
- 2-3 tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced (a peeled piece about 2”x 2”)
- 1⁄2 cup organic, low-sodium chicken stock
- 1⁄2 cup organic peanut butter (no salt or sugar added), smooth or chunky
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, low-sodium
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- 4 teaspoons of hot red curry paste (or hot Chile paste)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
- 3-4 fresh scallions, chopped
- 1⁄4 cup raw or toasted sesame seeds (to toast: toss gently in a dry pan on medium heat, 1-2 minutes, until golden brown.)
- 1⁄4 cup dry-roasted peanuts, no salt added, rough chopped (use more if using creamy peanut butter in the sauce)
Put a large pot of water on to boil. Use at least 4 quarts or liters of water per pound of pasta. You want the pasta to “swim” in the water to prevent sticking. Cover the pot to bring it up to a boil faster, but then cook the pasta uncovered.
While the water is heating…
1. Rinse the scallions well in cold water, pat dry and slice into 1⁄4 inch pieces, discarding the root ends and the dark green tops. Chop the peanuts. Set aside for garnish.
2. Peel and mince the ginger and the garlic. Set aside.
When the water is at a full, rolling boil…
Add 2 heaping tablespoons of salt and drop in the pasta. Cook according to the package directions or until “al dente” – still firm to the bite. Stir the pasta occasionally to keep it “swimming” and prevent it from sticking. Do NOT put oil in the water! It will prevent the sauce from clinging to noodles.
While the pasta is cooking…
3. In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken stock, peanut butter, soy sauce, fish sauce, hot red curry paste, honey, garlic and ginger.
4. Stir gently over medium heat until the peanut butter has “melted”, the ingredients are all incorporated, and the sauce is smooth and creamy.
It will turn from a dark red-brown to a beautiful caramel color. Simmer gently for 1-2 minutes, stirring every now and then. Turn the heat to low and keep warm.
When the pasta is done…
5. Carefully reserve a half-cup of the starchy pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta but do not rinse it! You want a bit of the starchy water on the noodles to help the sauce cling. Put the pasta back in the hot pot, off the heat. Add the peanut sauce and stir gently to combine. Return the pot to low heat and stir together for 1 minute. Add the reserved pasta water, a splash at a time, to make the sauce satiny smooth. The pasta will absorb quite a bit of the sauce as it cools so you want it to be fully coated.
Serve in small bowls or shallow soup plates. Garnish with chopped peanuts, fresh scallions and a dusting of sesame seeds. For a fun challenge, use chop sticks! Try fresh cucumbers slices on the side for a cool, crisp, and refreshing break from the heat. FYI: These noodles are very good cold too!
Guest Author: Christine Coughlan is the publisher of a niche web site on pasta – MyFavoritePastaRecipes.com, your one-stop resource for pasta recipes, ideas, how-to and more!