Saturday, August 15, 2009

Thai Pesto Shrimp & Nutty Noodles

When you collect recipes like I do (over 1000 so far plus those that are in my ~30 cookbooks), you end up with some odds and ends. These are the recipes for something that is on that borderline of being a meal or a just a side dish. I've seen these recipes and been tempted to make them, but they just feel incomplete. I managed to combine two disparate pieces into a wonderful whole.

Notta Pasta

First off, one of my recipes called for rice pasta. From my experiences with gluten-free foods, alternative pastas can leave something to be desired. Notta Pasta, though, does a decent job with their rice pasta, which comes in a few different types. It is worth noting that these noodles take longer to cook than the 3 minutes indicated on the packaging, but they still come out tender and lighter than normal pasta. Plus, I feel that rice pasta absorbs flavors better than normal pastas. To me it seems to be more of a blank slate, ready to take on whatever you're throwing at it.

Thai Pesto Shrimp with Nutty Noodles

To give you the big idea for the meal, I had the separate recipes for nutty noodles and Thai pesto shrimp. For the noodles, I combined peanut butter, crumbled tofu, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar in a saucepan and heated it until the sauce was as smooth as possible. Some of the tofu did not "dissolve," but the sauce was still consistent in texture and flavor. Then I tossed in the cooked rice noodles. Simple and easy, but peanut butter is never lacking in flavor.

Briefly, for the Thai pesto shrimp, I placed cilantro, lime juice, peanuts, ginger, garlic, salt, pepper, and honey in a food processor, then streamed in the olive oil. The great thing about a pesto is that you need only three base ingredients: nut, greens (herb or lettuce) and olive oil. This means you can have an endless supply of different pestos that can pander to whatever flavor palette you want. The cilantro and peanuts in this pesto definitely give the dish the southeast Asian feel, and the other ingredients really help it to shine. Toss in some cooked shrimp and you're set. To put these two pieces together, I simply plated the pasta and topped it with the shrimp. Not only did each of the two portions of this meal have good flavor, but they combined incredibly well. Peanuts were the main linker, but the other flavors followed suit to make an incredibly satisfying whole.

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