Weeknight Shorts: Quick Noodles

January can be a culinary challenge. The winter weather often has us looking for comfort food, but we'd like to feature a vegetable or two, even though it seems like anything fresh is a snow-covered memory away. And flavors can end up being downright dull. But it doesn't have to be like that at all. In fact, in less than a half hour, you can be digging into this:

Packed with a variety of vegetables are perfect for winter and boasting a simple Thai peanut sauce, these dinner noodles just want you to grab a pair of chopsticks and enjoy. The earthy shitake mushrooms coupled with the creamy sauce will make the fact that this is a meatless dish simply slip your mind. The fact that all of the ingredients are fairly easy to assemble from an ordinary grocery store (look for the red curry paste in the ethnic section of most grocery stores) will have you smiling. And that it can all be in your bowl and on the table in less than a half hour will have you dancing for joy.

As is often the case, you could opt for other vegetables in this bowl. I chose the ones listed because they are easy to procure throughout the country in January. In fact, if you find fresh shitake mushrooms are difficult to find, you can easily rehydrate dried ones or substitute another variety. I like shitake mushrooms because they are fairly hearty and stand up to the intense sauce in this dish quite well. So grab your chopsticks and favorite noodle bowl and get ready to overcome January's culinary challenges.

Spicy Peanut Noodles

  • 8 oz. spaghetti noodles, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 T. canola oil
  • 1 c. chopped red cabbage
  • 1 c. coarsely shredded carrots
  • 8 oz. sliced shitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. red curry paste
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1-2 T. rice wine
  • 2-3 green onions, thinly sliced

Boil your pasta water and prepare the pasta according to the package directions. Drain off the water.

While the pasta is being prepared, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms and stir-fry until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Toss with the hot pasta. Lid the pot while you prepare the sauce.

To make the sauce, combine the peanut butter, curry paste, soy sauce, and rice wine. If the sauce seems a little too thick, add more rice wine. Toss the sauce and the green onions with the pasta and veggies and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 2-3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes

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