Friday, December 3, 2010

Warm up with these veggies

By Helen Klein

It may be cold outside, but vegetables that thrive in chilly weather enjoy a star turn in this warming Asian-inspired noodle dish that brings together some of my favorite flavors.

For this dish, I tossed together a bevy of veggies awaiting their summons in the crisper — broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, carrots and peppers — and upped the flavor quotient with onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, a dash of sesame oil and a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

Most of the work was cutting up the vegetables. I set a wok with a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil up to heat after I’d sliced the onions and carrots, then tossed each vegetable in as I finished cutting it. By the time I’d finished slicing and sautéing, the noodles — which are soaked in hot water — were fully softened. Then, it was a matter of rinsing the noodles with cold water to stop them from getting gummy and sticking together, tossing the noodles with the vegetables, and blending both with the waiting sauces.

Like so many of my recipes, this one is easy to alter. If you don’t like or don’t have one or more of the vegetables, simply substitute something in its place — just make sure to start with the harder ones first, since they take longer to cook.

The amount of sauce can also be varied. Taste the dish as you go along, and add more hoisin or soy sauce as you want. You can also put a bottle of hot sauce, such as the recently hip sriracha, on the table, so diners can fan the flavor flames if they so desire.

Asian Noodle And Vegetable Sauté
Serves 4-6 as a light main dish, 8 as a side dish

10 oz. package cellophane noodles
2-3 tbl. peanut oil
1 medium onion, halved and sliced
1 cup baby carrots, sliced into coins
1 orange or red pepper, halved, cored and sliced
1 green pepper, halved, cored and sliced
1/4 head bok choy, sliced into ribbons
1 fist-size chunk of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 fist-size chunk of broccoli, cut into small florets
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 quarter-sized slice of fresh ginger, cut into slivers
1 tbl. soy sauce
2-3 tbl. hoisin sauce, or more to taste
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, heat water, adding noodles before the water has begun to boil. Once boiling starts, turn off heat and soak for five minutes. Check texture of noodles, draining and rinsing with cold water if they are soft and pliable. Set aside.

In a large non-stick wok, heat peanut oil. When oil is hot, add onion slices and sauté till golden and translucent.

Add carrots and continue to sauté. When carrots have begun to soften, add pepper slices and bok choy ribbons and continue sautéing. When peppers have begun to soften, add cauliflower, broccoli, garlic and ginger, and continue sautéing. When broccoli and cauliflower are crisp-tender, add drained noodles and toss. Add soy sauce and hoisin sauce, adjusting flavor as necessary. Continue to cook, tossing to blend flavors.

Before serving, add sesame oil and cilantro (off the heat), tossing one more time.


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