It's late July, and most parts of the world are either in the midst of, recovering from, or anticipating their next summer heat wave.
Portland hasn't been so bad (yet), but lacking central air conditioning, I'm trying not to heat up the house more with excessive stove or oven use. And yet...noodle dishes keep calling to me. Short of a steaming Sunday gravy over hot pasta, I crave pasta salads, japchae, hot pho, and everything in between. What's a home cook who's CSA is exploding to do?
EZ PEANUT NOODS
Interesting fact: I came close to starting a sauce business in college. Though I studied English and Film Criticism, catering my art major friends' senior thesis shows and perfecting a recipe for peanut sauce swallowed most of my academic rigor. I don't remember the peanut sauce recipe, but it involved many new-to-me ingredients from the Asian market. After mapping out what it would take to get my product to market...I quickly talked my 21 year old self out of that nonsense. I managed to hide the memory of this nascent peanut sauce business for a few decades, but it recently came back to me when I made a super easy version with the help of Bobbie's Boat Sauce.
Ramen noodles pairing well with Bobbie's Boat Sauce is an empiric truth, but Umi Noodles with Bobbie's Boat Sauce is on the level of inexplicable. Umi makes organic fresh ramen and yakisoba noodles right here in Portland, and they're just so much better than anything you can buy in that category. I really love these cold, with just some sesame oil and Bobbie's Classic, but on this occasion, I had a lot of CSA vegetables taking up space in my fridge.
For the sauce: Combine 1/2 Cup peanut butter, 3 Tbsp Bobbie's Hot or Classic, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 clove of garlic finely minced, 1/4 Cup water and a squeeze of lime juice in a bowl. Whisk until smooth and add more of anything to your liking.
Julienne some raw vegetables (a Benriner mandoline comes in so handy here). Julienne some vegetables that need cooking like kale or broccoli. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add your vegetables, let the water come back to a boil, add your noodles, cook for about 2 min, drain into a colander run under cold water. Shake off excess water. Toss half the sauce over raw vegetables, add cooled noodles and the rest of the sauce, serve with extra Boat Sauce and chopped roasted peanuts.
BETSY'S SPAGHETTI WITH ZUCCHINI
This is my interpretation of a dish my mother made every summer. It's one of the reasons why zucchini is my favorite summer vegetable, and eating it makes me a little emotional. I don't know where she got the recipe, and it's been years since I had her version of it, so I guess it's my recipe now. The feature of the recipe is that the zucchini isn't cooked: it's salted and squeezed of moisture and mixed with garlic-infused oil and then tossed with hot pasta, which cooks it just enough. There is something about the almost-raw zucchini with basil, pasta, and parmesan that screams summertime. It's not a Bobbie's Boat Sauce recipe, but it is a great recipe to eat with Bobbie's Boat Sauce, especially the next day.
Start with about 2 pounds zucchini. Grate, or julienne with a mandoline. Toss with about 2tsp salt in a strainer and let sit for about 10 minutes before squeezing out the moisture with your hands. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a pan, add 2 fat cloves of minced garlic, the zest of a lemon, and a pinch of chili flake. Saute just until garlic turns opaque, then turn off heat. Add zucchini and this oil to the bottom of a large bowl.
Heat up a pot of salted water and cook a half box of spaghetti. Cook until al dente, and then instead of draining, use tongs to transfer hot pasta to the zucchini bowl. You want some of that starchy pasta water to join the noodles. Toss swiftly, then add a large handful of torn basil and as much parmesan cheese as you like. This can be served room temperature or cold, preferably with Bobbie's Boat Sauce on top.