Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chicken and Noodles with Peanut Sauce

This peanutty noodle dish gets bonus points in my kitchen for two reasons.  First, it comes together in under 30 minutes.  And second, as if the first isn't good enough, it's just as good served warm as it is at room temperature or cold, making it an ideal make-ahead meal. 

Try Gardein's buffalo or barbecue chicken wings for this recipe (sold in the freezer section), and simply discard the sauce that comes with the package, or save for another use.  The wings are the perfect size already, requiring no chopping or slicing.

  • 5 ounces uncooked chucka soba (Japanese curly noodles)*
  • 1/2 cup vegan chicken broth (prepared from Not Chick'n bouillon)
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce**
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter**
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup**
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
  • 1 pound Gardein chicken
  • 1 and 1/2 cups red bell pepper strips
  • 1 tablespoon bottled ground fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions, divided
1. Cook the noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together the chicken broth, hoisin sauce, peanut butter, rice vinegar, ketchup, and crushed red pepper.  Set aside.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and saute for 4 minutes.  Add the bell pepper and saute for 3 minutes.  Remove the chicken mixture from the pan and combine with the cooked noodles in a large bowl.

Note: although you can prepare Gardein chicken from frozen, it cooks a bit more evenly if I give it a quick defrost in the microwave first.

4. Heat the remaining teaspoon sesame oil in the skillet over medium heat.  Add the ginger and garlic; cook for 15 seconds.  Stir in the hoisin mixture and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

5. Add the hoisin mixture to the chicken mixture, along with 1/4 cup green onions, and toss well.  Sprinkle with the remaining green onions.

To round out the meal, add broccoli spears and this simple Asian slaw: whisk together 1 tablespoon vegan sugar, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil.  Pour the dressing over 4 cups cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw mix in a bowl, and chill until ready to serve. 

Note: If serving this dish cold, I recommend adding a touch of warm water, or the noodles might stick together.

*A quick tale of vegan caution.  I was so delighted to find chucka soba that I bought a package without reading the ingredients - I mistake I almost never make.  Just before making this dish, I noticed 'carotene for color' was added.  A quick Google search revealed that while the source of carotene is probably plant-based (think anything orange, like carrots), gelatin is needed to suspend and isolate the carotene.  I was not about to have pig hooves and bones in my curly noodles, so I hurried back to the store and bought a new brand - with no carotene added for color. 

**Forgive me for sounding like an advertisement, but I do recommend specific brands for the items called for in this recipe.  Whole Foods 365 brand makes an organic hoisin sauce, so even pesky things like organic caramel color will be vegan.  My favorite vegan peanut butters are Earth Balance, Jason's, and Peanut Butter & Co.. Buy any and all of them, eat off a spoon, and repeat (and save a little for this recipe).  I like ketchup from Annie's and Organicville, both certified vegan.

Nutrition Info:
5 servings (1 cup), Calories 353 

Tasting Notes:
A super peanutty, wonderfully thick sauce; the rather odd mix of ingredients in the hoisin mixture worked just perfectly, and decadently coated the noodles and chicken.  I'd add more fresh veggies next time - shredded carrot and snow peas perhaps - to "freshen" the flavor up a bit. If you love the theme of Asian-flavored noodles + protein for dinner, you could also try my recipes for Shrimp Pad Thai or Curried Noodles with Tofu.


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