Plato’s peanut butter noodles

There are certain meals that are sure-bets when feeding my family. Often, they include pasta. Fortunately, this one also includes broccoli and tofu, and is so delicious, everyone will love it, and you won’t get tired of it. It’s peanut butter noodles. I’ve been futzing with the recipe for a long time, trying different recipes to see which one I like best. Well, I’ve finally made the one, the Platonic ideal of peanut butter noodles, if you will. It tastes like satay, and it is delicious. I have a little bit of sauce left over, so I guess I’m going to have to make tofu satay! Bummer.

This is a recipe specifically for my kids, so it’s not very spicy. When my husband and I eat it, we add plenty of sriracha, which is highly recommended, but you could also use hot curry powder instead of regular curry powder or add cayenne to the sauce mix. Also, we all love what happens to broccoli when it’s roasted, so I take that step here, but you could just as easily add it to the pan. It’s so easy to roast, though, and if you fry the broccoli in the pan, you still should/have to remove the tofu from the pan in order to get the broccoli the direct contact with the pan that it deserves. Do it however you like, though.

Peanut butter noodles with tofu and broccoli

  • 1 head of broccoli, broken and chopped into small florets
  • 1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta (spaghetti or other shape)
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 lb extra-firm tofu, cubed into 1/2″ dice
  • 13 oz can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (I use natural peanut butter with nothing added to it, except salt, I don’t know what this would be like with Jif)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp agave
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Chopped roasted peanuts for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (makes clean-up easy), and spray with cooking spray. Place the broccoli florets on the foil, pour the olive oil over it and add the salt. Toss with your hands until all the florets have a light coating of the oil. Roast for about 18 to 20 minutes, stirring and tossing about half-way through cooking time.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. My husband likes spaghetti, but it’s messy for the kids, so I break it into smaller pieces.

Heat a large cast iron pan over slightly lower than medium-high heat. Add the canola oil. When the oil is hot, add the tofu and then leave it aloneIf you try to move it before the tofu is properly caramelized, you’ll lose the crispy skin to the pan. When it lifts fairly easily, after a good 8 to 10 minutes, toss it around in the pan to caramelize it on another side.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, agave, tamarind paste, curry powder, salt, ginger, and coriander, and place the saucepan over medium heat. Stir often to incorporate the peanut butter and to ensure that it doesn’t burn to the bottom of the pan. When the sauce starts to simmer and bubble, it’s ready to serve.

In a large bowl, toss together the drained pasta, the broccoli, the tofu, and the sauce until thoroughly combined. Serve with plenty of sriracha and chopped peanuts, if you want to be fancy.

Serves a family of five (with three small kids)

The genius of the Mediterranean

I love the food of the Mediterranean. I lived in France for a year – in the Loire Valley, but I prefer the food of Provence. I’ve never been to Italy or Greece, except in my fantasies, but I have been to Spain and Portugal and Israel and Argentina…cultures that emphasize fresh, delicious, in-season produce in their cooking. Cultures that melt tomatoes in olive oil, that brilliantly combine garlic and lemon parts to make miraculous, simple un-sauces, where perfect olives of infinite variety are tapas…

In all of these places, veganism would seem preposterous to most people. Why would you willingly cut out whole categories of food? No matter. I’m grateful for the inspiration. Grateful for the history and tradition and invention.

And so, voila, my homage to the Mediterranean.

I should note that when my 5-year-old tasted this, she said, unsolicited, “You should definitely serve this to your clients. Definitely.” I also think this would make a super yummy pizza topping. And a little secret: the broccoli and tomatoes were left over from a crudite tray. Ew – refrigerated tomatoes. But in this dish, delicious!!

Mediterranean pasta

  • 1 tbsp + 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, broken into small pieces
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4-5 fat garlic-stuffed olives (or Greek-cured or kalamata), sliced
  • Juice and zest of half of a lemon (I used a Meyer)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 lb whole wheat penne
  • 1/2 cup almond meal

Put a large covered saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Once boiling, cook the pasta (add salt!) until al dente, and then drain. Meanwhile, heat a large cast iron pan over a bit over medium heat and add the tbsp of oil, and then, one it’s shimmering, add the shallots and broccoli. Saute for 3 or 4 minutes, then add the tomatoes, garlic, and oregano. Coax the tomatoes into melting by poking them with a sharp knife. Add the rest of the oil, the chickpeas, olives, lemon zest and juice, and salt to taste. Let simmer and melt while the pasta cooks.

Heat a small cast iron pan over medium heat, and add the almond meal. Toast, stirring often, for about ten minutes until well toasted but not burned.

Toss the pasta with the sauce, adding a drizzle of olive oil if you like. Sprinkle each serving with almond meal, and serve.

Avocado pesto potato salad

Okay. This is so good and SO easy. And SO GOOD.

  • 2 or 3 generous handfuls broccoli florets, broken or chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 10 smallish red-skinned potatoes, cubed into 1/2″ dice
  • Handful basil
  • 2 or 3 handfuls spinach and arugula
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 ripe but firm avocados
  • 1/2 – 1 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place broccoli on a cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and roast for about 14 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time.

Meanwhile, place potatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Leave lid ajar, and reduce heat to medium. Simmer for about 7 minutes, and taste. The potatoes should be cooked all the way through, but still firm. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Pour broccoli into the bowl.

Place the basil, greens, walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and avocados into the bowl of a food processor, and start the machine. Stream in the olive oil until the avocados are completely pureed and the texture is pesto-like. Pour some pesto – not all of it, start with about a cup – onto the potatoes and broccoli, and toss. Add more pesto, if desired. Use left-over pesto on fettucine.