I just watched the season finale of Top Chef: All Stars. Even though the food cooked on the series is nothing like the food I want to or would eat right now (my mouth waters regardless), I totally and completely connect with the passion and the personalities of the contestants on the show. I was bawling like a baby when they announced the winner, Richard Blais.
Today I present you with the second of Chef A.j.’s recipes from her new cookbook, Unprocessed. Light on calories, this dish is not. Heavy on flavor and texture, this dish delivers. Bring this to a party and you are sure to wow your family and friends. After preparing two of Chef A.j.’s recipes, her disappearing lasagna and now her Spicy Peanut Noodles with Broccoli, I can say that she should be competing on Top Chef! And by preparing Chef A.j.’s recipes, I feel like I can bring the magic of great tasting, special food into my own home, even as a no-added-fat vegan.
Chef A.j.’s Spicy Peanut Noodles with Broccoli
1 pound brown rice noodles (spaghetti or linguine)
1 pound broccoli florets
3/4 cup peanut butter, unsweetened and unsalted
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbsp low sodium tamari
2 Tbsp date syrup*
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4-1/2 ounce piece of fresh ginger, pressed
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
8 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
Sesame seeds or chopped unsalted peanuts for garnish (optional)
*To make the date paste: soak 1/4 pound of dates in 1/4 cup of water for several hours until much of the liquid is absorbed (you can do this overnight). In a food processor fitted with the s blade (I used my mini Cuisinart), process dates and liquid until completely smooth. Store extra date paste in the refrigerator.
Cook pasta according to directions on package. Run under cold water when done. Drain and place in a large bowl.
Blanch broccoli and run under cold water when done. Drain and add to pasta bowl along with the scallions.
To make the sauce, combine peanut butter, water, rice vinegar, tamari, date syrup, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk until smooth and cook for about 10 minutes until thickened, turning heat down to low if necessary to prevent overheating. Pour dressing over noodles and broccoli and thoroughly combine. Chill until it becomes cold.