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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Szechuan Noodles with Green Beans and Cashews

I like this dish because it has lots of interesting flavors, it has some heat, which is very healthy to incorporate into your diet, and my kids love noodles!  It's also easily amended to accomodate food allergies (like using corn/rice pasta for gluten allergies).

Serves 4 as a main course

The Sauce:

1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1/4 cup Asian sesame oil (I use toasted sesame oil because I like the strong flavor it brings)
2 TBS natural-style peanut butter (I use almond butter because both my kids have mild-moderate peanut
1 TBS sugar
1 TBS Chinese wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1TBS minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1/2 tsp salt
8 ounces green beans, cut in half (@ 2 1/2 cups)
1 lb spaghetti
3 scallions, very thinly sliced
1 cucmber, peeled, cut lengthwise, seeded, and sliced 1/4 inch thick (I use Persian cucumbers so I don't
   have to peel and deal with the seeds)
1/2 cup roasted cashews, preferably unsalted, roughly chopped
3 TBS finely chopped cilantro (optional....but cilantro brightens the flavor of the whole dish so use it if you  

1.  Combine the sauce ingredients ina blender (preferably) or a food processor (that's what I've always used and I can't tell difference between that and the blender) and process until smooth.  Pour into a small bowl.

2.  Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil.  Drop in the green beans and cook 5 minutes, or just until tender yet still slightly crunchy.  Removed with a strainer, place in a bowl, and cover with cold water to stop any further cooking (I always use an ice bath and then take out the ice with a spider/colander with a handle--super easy).  Pour off the water and cover again.  Let sit a few inutes so they can get completely cold.  Drain well, then place on a kitchen twel and pat dry.

3.  Put the spaghetti in the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 12 minutes.  Do not overcook it.  Drain thoroughly in a colander.  Rinse under cold running water until cold.  Shake the colander vigorously to remove any excess water.  Place the noodels in a very large bowl.

4.  Mix in the green beans, scallions, cucumber, and cashews.  Pour on the sauce and use tongs to toss, coating well.  Let the noodles marinate at least 30 inutes before serving.  Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

TIP:  If you prepare this dish more than 30 minutes in advance, pour on only 3/4 of the sauce, and then just before serving add the reamining sauce and toss well. 

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