Going vegan? That’s another story. I know there are a billion agave nectar muffins and triple bean chilis out there, but I’m not sure a life without cheese is worth living. What’s more, since 1977, I know exactly one successful vegan. I have a few college friends who tried it out way back when, but among them, even the crunchiest of Phish fan hippies failed miserably. A butterless universe seemed meaningless, and within a month or two, they always went back to the wide world of mozzarella sticks. (It sounds like I’m knocking veganism here, but I swear, I’m not. I respect and admire anyone who can hack it without resorting to rice 24/7.)
Incidentally, my one successful vegan friend, S, came over for dinner last night. Now in his ‘30s, S has been a vegan for years and years, and by god, I didn’t want to poison him. I figured pasta was safe, so I began by researching veggie-heavy noodle dishes. Then, I remembered Ellie Krieger’s Aromatic Noodles with Lime-Peanut Sauce, which I made for one of my mom’s rare sojourns to Brooklyn last year. Thanks to the peanuts, chilis, and lime, it has a slight Thai flavor, and the mixture of snow peas, broccoli, and peanut butter sauce gives it a moxy lacking in an average pasta primavera. Mom liked the dish, and that was good enough endorsement for me.
It was good enough for S, too. He went home full and un-poisoned, which is a main goal of mine nowadays. (Oh, also the cheap and healthy thing.) After the experience, I’m ready for other vegans now, as well. At the rate I meet them, though, that won’t be ‘til 2037.
On a side note, the more I see of Ellie, the more I like her. She’s knowledgeable, reliable, and soothing-er than a Sarah McLachlan record. It’s a nice counterpoint to Ray-Ray, Ingrid Hoffman, and The Banshee That Ate Paula Deen. Here’s hoping she never gets hit by the “Turn it Up to 11” flu.
Only the pricing info is included below, since Food.com so graciously provided nutritional listings.
P.S. #1: Reviewers on the Food Network site substituted all kinds of veggies and protein for the peas (which tend to be expensive) and broccoli. You can, too. The star of the recipe is the peanut sauce, so go nuts.
P.S. #2: I was worried at first, and we had side salads just in case, but this really did feed six people.
P.S. #3: Not all pasta brands and types are safe for vegans. Read the labels to make sure.
Aromatic Noodles with Lime-Peanut Sauce
Makes 6 servings (1 cup pasta, 1 cup veggies, 2.5 T sauce)
Adapted from Ellie Krieger.
3/4 pound spinach linguine or whole-wheat spaghetti
2 cups (about 9 ounces) broccoli florets
2 cups (about 6 ounces) snow peas, trimmed
2 cups (about 6 ounces) sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 scallion, cut into pieces
3/4 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup shelled unsalted peanuts
1) Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water to stop cooking process, and set aside.
2) While pasta is cooking, steam broccoli for 3 minutes in a medium saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add snow peas and sugar snap peas and steam for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat when finished.
3) Toast peanuts until fragrant, around 3 minutes. Set aside. Chop when cooled.
4) Combine peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, lime juice, scallion, ginger, sugar, and red pepper flakes in a food processor. Puree until smooth.
5) In a large serving bowl, mix pasta with 3/4 cup peanut sauce, stirring thoroughly to combine. Top with veggies and pour remaining sauce over everything. Serve with roasted peanuts on top.
Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
451 calories, 19 g fat, $1.58
3/4 pound spinach linguine or whole-wheat spaghetti: $1.12
2 cups (about 9 ounces) broccoli florets: $0.99
2 cups (about 6 ounces) snow peas, trimmed: $1.60
2 cups (about 6 ounces) sugar snap peas, trimmed: $2.74
1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter: $0.42
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce: $0.38
1/4 cup water: $0.00
2 tablespoons rice vinegar: $0.48
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice: $0.60
1 scallion, cut into pieces: $0.20
3/4 inch fresh ginger, finely grated: $0.20
2 tablespoons brown sugar: $0.06
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes: $0.01
1/2 cup shelled unsalted peanuts: $0.70
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): $1.58