Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thai Peanut Noodles with Shrimp Summer Rolls

One of my New Year's resolutions is to make more unique foods for my husband and me. I tend to stick to a repetoire of pizza, pasta and Mexican food, and I know it is time to break out of that cycle. So last night I created an Asian menu with tons of flavor and - best of all - it was also healthy! The menu was fantastic, and I'm excited to share it with you, because these dishes are good foundations that can be jazzed up with a variety of flavors and proteins to keep them interesting. You don't have to make these together either, the Thai Peanut Noodles are a meal on their own, and the Shrimp Summer Rolls would be fantastic with a simple salad or grilled chicken. The one ingredient listed that may not be in your pantry is rice vinegar. I am skeptical of recipes that require me to buy lots of new ingredients I'm afraid I'll never use again, but rice vinegar is an Asian staple that I guarantee you will find uses for again and again! So go for it!

Thai Peanut Noodles
A sweet peanuty sauce with delicious healthy flavors!
Serves 4

3/4 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed

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 roasted peanuts, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook the pasta in a large pot of water according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water. While the pasta is cooking put the broccoli in a steamer basket over a large pot of boiling water and steam it for 3 minutes. Add the snow peas and sugar snap peas and steam for 2 minutes more. Reserve noodles and veggies until ready to use.
Make the sauce by pureeing the peanut butter, soy sauce, water, vinegar, lime juice, scallion, ginger, sugar and red pepper flakes in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.

Cook the chicken over medium-high heat in a large wok or skillet in some olive oil. Once cooked through, add the noodles and veggies and stir until combined and warm. Reduce heat to low and stir in the peanut sauce. Toss until combined.

Serve in large bowls topped with chopped peanuts and cilantro with a big squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Shrimp Summer Rolls
Fresh and delicious, full of good-for-you flavors!
Makes 10 rolls

Dipping Sauce:
1/3 cup water
3 T. rice vinegar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 T. finely grated carrot
1 garlic clove, minced

2 oz. rice vermicelli (also called maifun or rice sticks)
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1 red bell pepper, seeded, halved and cut into thin strips
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 T. canola oil
2 T. lime juice
1.5 tsp. kosher salt
10 round rice spring roll skins
10 large cooked and peeled shrimp, halved lengthwise
20 fresh mint leaves

Whisk all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the rice noodles, cover and remove from the heat and let sti for 10 minutes. Stir with a fork to separate noodles and drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl. Add carrot, cucumber, bell pepper, scallions, cilantro, oil, lime juice, and salt and stir to combine.

Fill a large bowl with cold water. Dip a spring roll skin into the water just until pliable. Place the skin on a work surface and pat dry. Mound 1/3 cup of the noodle mixture across the center of the skin roll skin. Top with 2 shrimp halves and 2 mint leaves. Fold over the two ends of the spring roll skin, then roll up the spring roll tightly. Keep in a plate covered with a damp paper towel until ready to serve. Assemble others and serve with dipping sauce.

Recipes adapted from Food Network and Sorg's.

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