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Foodie Tuesday: The Pioneer Woman's Spicy Peanut Pasta Salad
March 29th, 2011 by Nancy

PIONEERWOMANI make the lunchbox.  YOU make the lunch.

Foodie Tuesday, week two: Where would I be without you, Pioneer Woman Cooks?

If you haven’t come across this site by Ree Drummond, you’re in for a treat – this gal loves food, cooking, good photography and her family (and much more), and rolls them all together into a website that keeps surprising and entertaining us with every visit.  When I need a delicious, comforting meal, her site is often my first stop.  My chef-in-the-making daughter browses her site partly for inspiration and partly for sheer entertainment; little does she realize, though, that in Ree’s hands she’s getting a head start on her cooking education as Ree photographs every single step along the way.

Do note: fat is her friend.  Butter is a food group, not a condiment, in Ree’s kitchen.  The results are worth it, but it takes some time to get used to measuring the stuff by the stick, not the teaspoon. Note also that her portion sizes run to the “cattle rancher” sized, especially since that’s just who she’s cooking for – she and her husband are in rural Oklahoma, where they ranch and homeschool their four children.  Whew, it makes me weak-kneed just writing that sentence.  Anyway, adjust her portions accordingly.

Now to hone in on a recipe from her site…I’m aiming for something that cooks up easily, packs up nicely in a Lunchsense lunchbox, serves well at any temperature, and is mouth-wateringly tasty to boot.  I think I’ve found it:

SPICY PEANUT PASTA SALAD

Spicy-Peanut-Pasta-Salad

Spicy Peanut Pasta salad: click the photo for the recipe.

Here we have peanut+garlic+sesame+sweet/sour effects of vinegar and brown sugar, blended and dressing room-temperature linguine and garnished with cilantro.

What I love about this recipe is that it barely breaks a sweat in the prep department: boil noodles, make sauce in blender, pour over noodles.  I also like that it starts with a solid base (the peanut sauce) made from readily available components, but it’s infinitely adjustable depending on the current inventory in the kitchen and preferences of the diners.  Outa red chile oil?  Not a problem, use…a little chili pepper, maybe, for heat, or possibly red chile paste.   No cilantro?  Sure, coarsely grate some carrots and/or cabbage and it’ll be fine.  Toss in bean sprouts or steamed pea pods if they’re around, it’ll be great.

To complete the meal Ree served it up with sliced roasted beef tenderloin and roasted asparagus – note that both of these other dishes are great served hot or cold, making them perfect lunchtime companions to the pasta salad.  They aren’t essential, though, and if you have another combo that works I’d love to hear about it!


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