The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.
This sounded like the perfect "come back" recipe to try. This is Fishing Camp week and The Husband is 800 miles north into Canada and he hates nut butters, so it's time for me to enjoy all the things he hates all week! Indian food is next on my list! I made a fresh cashew butter since I conveniently had a jar of unopened cashews that had been waiting too long to make it into some cookies. This cashew butter was to be used for the Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing which featured some rice noodles and veggies. The ingredients sounded delicious and boy was I pleasantly surprised.
The cashew dressing is totally awesome! This dish reminded me of something I would order and love from a Thai restaurant so I am going to go ahead and say this is the best thai food I've ever made in my kitchen. I skipped the shrimp but went ahead with wide rice noodles and some sugar snap peas and red bell peppers.
I made the cashew butter in the food processor and then just tossed in the dressing ingredients which was super convenient, you don't have to dirty another bowl or blender!
The combination of the sugar, garlic, soy sauce and vinegar is so good, and I chopped some fresh green onions and basil from my herb garden on top. A squeeze of lime juice and then I was in heaven - so good! This recipe makes two very large portions with a lot more dressing leftover for use in something else. I hope you try it, it was one of the best and surprising things I've made recently - this could the be the perfect thing to pull you out of your kitchen doldrums!
**UPDATE** - Instead of just eating leftovers tonight, I decided to make a curried coconut cashew eggplant dish and use up the rest of my cashews that I still had in the pantry. It turned out fabulous and I have a ton more leftovers - it was a perfect dish while The Husband is gone on his fishing trip this week.. he hates coconut, eggplant, nuts, and curry... perfect time for me to enjoy! This might be the first time I did a back-to-back Daring Cook/Baker recipe night so I am proud of that. Leaving the food processor out on my counter overnight sure was handy!
Curried Coconut Cashew Eggplant with PitaNo formal recipe as I just tasted as I went, but it went something like this: I sauteed one small eggplant (which amounted to quite a lot of eggplant cubes!), one large tomato, one large onion, about half a can of coconut milk, maybe 3 tablespoons of cashew butter, 3 pressed garlic cloves, and an assortment of seasonings: ground fennel, tumeric, garam masala, hot curry powder, coriander seeds, cumin, ginger, salt and honey to taste. I served this on a pita (I was planning to make hummous this week.. something The Husband also hates!) and it was so delicious but you would also enjoy it on rice, naan or a chipati. Chicken would be great in this dish also.
Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew (or Peanut) Dressing
Yield: 4 servings
Recipe notes: Customize the salad by adding or substituting your favorite vegetables. Shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, and slivered carrots would make nice additions. Obviously, you can omit the shrimp, or substitute chicken or tofu or the protein of your choice. The dressing is equally as good with peanut butter rather than cashew butter. We tested the dressing with nut butters made from salted cashews & peanuts with good results.
1 cup (240 ml) cashews*
½ inch (1 cm) slice of fresh ginger, chopped
8 cloves garlic, more or less to taste, chopped
½ cup (120 ml) cashew butter
¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) sugar
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) vinegar
3 Tablespoons (45 ml) toasted sesame oil
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (75 ml) water
Hot sauce to taste (optional)
1/2 pound (225 g) linguine or thin rice noodles
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1/2 pound (225 g) small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into thin strips
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced
1/4 cup (60 ml) sliced green onions
1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) chopped cashews (optional garnish)
Lime wedges (optional)
Make cashew butter: Grind cashews in food processor for about 2 minutes until smooth. (*Or start with ½ cup (120 ml) prepared cashew butter.)
Prepare cashew dressing: Combine ginger, garlic, cashew butter, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, and water in food processor or blender. Process/blend until smooth. Be sure to process long enough to puree the ginger and garlic. The dressing should be pourable, about the same thickness as cream. Adjust consistency – thinner or thicker -- to your liking by adding more water or cashew butter. Taste and add your favorite hot sauce if desired. (If the cashew butter was unsalted, you may want to add salt to taste.) Makes about 1 ½ cups (360 ml) dressing. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator.
Prepare noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Rinse and drain noodles. Set aside.
Heat oil in large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add shrimp to the pan and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes or until opaque throughout. Alternately, cook shrimp in boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes or until done.
Slice basil into thin ribbons. Combine noodles, bell pepper, cucumber, onions, and basil in a large bowl. Add about ½ cup (120 ml) cashew dressing; toss gently to coat. Add more cashew dressing as desired, using as much or as little as you’d like. Scatter shrimp on top. Squeeze fresh lime juice over salad or serve with lime wedges. Sprinkle with chopped cashews if desired.