A few weeks ago, Mark Bittman did a piece in his Minimalist column on the virtues of peanut butter, one of the most "flavor and reliable single-ingredient processed foods". Not only is peanut butter insanely healthy, but it is also extremely versatile and has far more uses than the traditional PB+J that we all know and love. Admittedly, in my case Bittman is preaching to the choir. I could eat peanut butter all day, every day, in any variety of ways. Curries, stir fries, burgers (did you know it is the secret ingredient in White Castle burgers), cookies, cake, ice cream, etc. The list actually is endless since peanut butter is both savory and sweet and thus goes well in almost any type of dish.
I did not always used to feel way, however, and it is strange to think that once upon a time I scorned at the idea of a peanut butter sandwich. I mean, it was something my mom fed me when I was five. You don't see me trying to revisit the days of eating Gerber Graduates, do you?
So what changed? I can only imagine it is the fact that peanut butter, for all of its simplicity, is actually quite complex. It's like that guy who you were obsessed with in high school or college (or dare I say medical school). You can't quite figure it out. One minute it's a remnant of your past, right up there with ramen noodles and Kraft's Mac and Cheese, and the next it's being served to you in a five star restaurant (and is completely blowing your mind). And as much as you try to resist - to convince yourself that there are other, better nut butters out there - ones that aren't quite so schizophrenic - you just keep coming back for more. It's an addiction that you just can't shake.
And so you find yourself sitting at home on a Tuesday night after running practice making peanut sauce. Marveling at how ground legumes can be so satisfying.
Coco-Peanut Butter Noodle Salad
Serves 4, adapted from A Year In The Kitchen
1 lb pasta
1 green bell pepper
1 clove garlic
3/8 cup peanut butter
3/8 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
3/4 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp sriracha
1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the bag/box.
2. Saute the zucchini and peppers until soft, along with the garlic and the scallions. Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce. When the pasta has about 2-3 minutes left to cook, pour the sauce over the zucchini and pepper mixture to warm it.
3. Toss everything together.
I am submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted this week by Sarah of Imafoodblog.