June is turning out to be hot, hot, HOT. Heat records are being set all across the US southwest. We reached 102F (39C) yesterday! Historically, Colorado doesn’t hit the 100s until July and August, so this summer is turning out to be quite unusual. I, for one, really enjoy the heat, especially after our long, cold mountain winters. But all I’m craving is cool, crunchy fresh veggies. I’ve been making these Thai-inspired noodles for years. Before my daughter was born, I made them with peanut butter, which is traditional but, because of her food allergies, I now use sunflower seed butter. Either is just fine. If you really don’t want to cook in the heat, you can use a Rotisserie chicken. If using fresh chicken breasts, I like to cook them early in the morning to prevent the kitchen from getting too hot (season well with salt and pepper and bake at 400F/200C for 25-30 minutes). Then I let them chill in the fridge all day. At dinnertime, it’s just a matter of boiling the noodles and whipping up the sauce which is made in the blender. No fuss, no sweat – just how a summer weeknight meal should be!
I shared this recipe years ago on my old blog, Pure and Peanut Free, and it’s still one of the most popular recipes on that site. I’m sharing it here again, in case you’re wondering what to make for dinner tonight.
Thai-Inspired Noodles with Sunflower Butter and Chicken
1 lb. Asian wheat noodles (or thin spaghetti)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 clove garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled (or 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
1/2 cup organic, unsweetened sunflower butter (or peanut butter)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
1/3 cup hot cooking water
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded, cut into crescents
4 scallions, sliced
a handful of cilantro, chopped
2 chicken breasts, seasoned with salt & pepper, cooked and chilled
Cook noodles according to package directions. Be sure to reserve 1/3 cup of cooking water before draining. Drain & rinse noodles under cool water. Place in a large serving bowl and toss with sesame oil. Set aside.
While noodles cook, prepare sauce. Start with a clean, empty blender. Turn the blender on and drop the garlic and ginger onto the blades. Process until finely chopped. Add sunflower butter, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar and red pepper. Process until well-blended. Pour in the reserved hot cooking water and blend until smooth.
Pour sauce over noodles. Slice chicken and add to noodles. Add cucumbers and scallions and toss until everything is well coated w/ sauce. Top with chopped cilantro. Serve at room temp or chilled.