A healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square in NYC, Kelly Dupuis believes in eating foods without labels (an ear of corn, a ripe tomato). As a proponent of plant-based diets, she eschews packaged substitutes offering a quick fix. For Kelly, it's all about cooking from scratch. In her weekly column, Comfort Food - Refreshed, Kelly doesn't just adapt her favorite comfort foods to her plant-strong lifestyle, she reimagines them in original recipes with a wink to the past.
This week: Kelly twirls kale, cabbage, and brown rice noodles around in a creamy peanut-lime sauce.
So, my whole adventure with Asian-style peanut/sesame noodles began in college. Since those days, I’ve lightened things up a bit, as you know. And I posted this noodle salad recipe at the start of my Comfort Food - Refreshed column here on Whole Foods Market Cooking as a sort of jumping-off point for refreshing some of my old-school comfort favorites.
The peanut noodles I made in college were super rich: loads of peanut butter (not necessarily the all-natural kind, mind you), tons of soy sauce, white flour spaghetti, and loads of fried chicken chunks. I think I even added potatoes. (Nothing against potatoes, but, um, that’s a bit carb heavy, Kell.) I made that particularly indulgent version of peanut noodles for a couple of students who had a column in the campus newspaper. The column was called “The Moochers Go Munching.” The Moochers asked fellow students to invite them over to their dorm rooms or apartments for a meal. And I was all about that! "Come on over," I said. "I’ll make you some sick peanut noodles!"
After they’d enjoyed the meal, The Moochers would generally write up a review (most often kind and generous) about the food they’d eaten. I received a pretty sweet review. I mean, who doesn’t like peanut sauce? The Moochers, my roommates, and I also played video games on an old-school game system following the noodle feast, if I remember correctly. And there were supermarket-bakery chocolate chips cookies that were devoured. It was a fun night. And pretty wholesome as far as college nighttime activities go!
I’ve fashioned many versions of peanut noodles since then. Some in a refreshing cold salad application; some hot, steamy, and filling; some made mild sans chile peppers; some wicked spicy from a good dousing of sriracha (Hot Sauce of Kings and Queens, if you ask me). In fact, for my birthday this past November, I threw a peanut noodle and taco buffet brunch. Yes, I cooked for others on my birthday. What can I tell you? It’s my present to myself to cook for others, to watch them eat and enjoy my food.
All this talk of whipping up batches of peanut noodles for groups of folks proves a point: Peanut noodles are made for sharing. They just are. They seem to go a long way. Because it’s never just about the noodle. There are lots of other fun ingredients involved in a peanut-noodle affair. In fact, my Peanut-Lime Brown Rice Noodles with Kale and Cabbage only begins with the noodle. A brown rice noodle, in fact. Have you ever tried brown rice noodles? I’m very much into them (the Happy Pho kind in particular). They cook up very quickly, they're gluten free, and they’re just a bit more hearty than their white rice or white flour noodle counterparts. With a bit more fiber and chew, brown rice noodles are way up there on my new-favorite foods list. But, as I said, peanut noodles don’t begin and end with the noodle -- the veggies and sauce add texture and outstanding flavor. In the summertime, I choose veggies like zucchini and yellow squash, but in the winter, I’m all about using cabbage and kale.
I like cutting these veggies in either ribbons or matchsticks to mimic the shape of the noodles. That’s the ticket -- to chiffonade the kale and shred the cabbage, so that when it comes to tossing the tender cooked noodles and still-crunchy veggies with the sweet, creamy, tangy peanut sauce, everything gets coated equally. Finish it off with flavorful garnishes like sesame seeds, chopped peanuts, cilantro, and mint, and I’m telling you: This dish will blow your socks off. It's a truly great collaboration of fresh produce and pantry staples. So, if you happen to find yourself hosting dinner one night, make a batch (or two!) of this recipe. It’s a bowlful of peanutty goodness bound to produce rave reviews.
Peanut-Lime Brown Rice Noodles with Kale and Cabbage
8 ounces brown rice noodles
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 head lacinato kale, ribs removed and thinly sliced
3/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon sea salt
Juice of two limes
1/4 cup plus one tablespoon no-salt and no-sugar-added creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
Hot sauce to taste (I like sriracha!)
3-5 tablespoons warm water
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
In the NYC area? Stop by for cooking advice!
Do you need help with maintaining a healthy diet? Drop by WFM Columbus Circle or WFM Union Square to chat with me about this recipe and plant-strong cooking tips. I'll be preparing these peanut-lime noodles this Friday, January 18, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. at our Columbus Circle store.
If you're not in the area, send me a direct message or add your comments or questions below.
Like this post? See Kelly's topic from last week: Orange, Jicama and Avocado Salad.
Kelly Dupuis is a healthy eating specialist at WFM Columbus Circle and WFM Union Square who delights in transforming comfort classics into deliciously satisfying and fun plant-based dishes.