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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thai Noodles with Eggplant and Peanut Sauce

Because ethnic food is just more interesting!

OK, so, remember me telling you about all the goodies I picked up at the market this weekend?  Well, for whatever reason, I decided to get two of everything: 2 eggplants, 2 onions, 2 bell peppers.  And a head of cauliflower, that I'll likely divide in two.  So it looks like today's recipe is just the first of two eggplant/pepper/onion concoctions.  (I'm saving the cauliflower for yet another recipe I have on reserve.  I'll likely chop it and freeze it so I can use it next week.)

Today's recipe is a Thai-inspired dish.  I haven't had Thai food in quite some time, only because Thai cuisine relies heavily on fish or oyster sauce, and it's hard to know if the vegetarian dish you order in a Thai restaurant is really vegetarian.  I took a Thai cooking class through the community college when I was younger (I won't tell you how much younger, but let's just say this was several years ago).  Back then, I really didn't know how to cook.  And I wasn't vegetarian.  But in this class, I learned how to make a peanut sauce, which was fantastic, but definitely included fish sauce, and was poured over chicken and served with rice (I think).

Forget the chicken and fish!  This peanut sauce pretty much rocks!  I was concerned about the fat content- peanut sauce is very rich, using peanut butter, oil, and coconut milk as the main ingredients.  There was no way around the peanut butter, but I decreased the amount of oil and, instead of using coconut milk, I used almond milk with coconut extract added to it.  If you're not concerned about the fat content, feel free to use canned coconut milk in place of the almond milk, and omit the coconut extract.  (Also, you will likely only need 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, if any.)

I'm quite pleased with the results, and my roomie just devoured a bowl, exclaiming that it was "Really, really good!!!"  And that's good enough for me.

1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 tsp coconut extract
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice
1 tsp molasses
2 Tbsp cornstarch

1 box (14 oz) Thai rice noodles

1 tsp sesame oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 large eggplant, chopped (I got about 3 cups out of this baby!)

1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds, optional
Salt and pepper

Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend on high until well combined.  Set aside for a sec.
Boil a large pot of water and cook noodles according to directions on package.
In a large saute pan, heat sesame oil on medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, and cook for about 3 minutes.  Add peppers and cook for another minute or two, until veggies are soft.  Add eggplant and sesame seeds, if using, and cook for another 8-ish minutes.  Add sauce to the pan and continue to cook over medium heat until sauce has thickened, stirring frequently.
When noodles are done, drain and return to pot.  Add the saucy veggies and stir to coat all noodles.  Season with salt and pepper, and serve with additional soy sauce as desired.

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