Back in my Bucknell days, we had a saying: “I’m off to drop another fitty at Walmart.”*
Every stinking time, we’d walk through the doors planning to buy only one tube of toothpaste, yet somehow end up with three bags’ worth of “necessities.”
These days, I could easily double that number with all my trips to the grocery store for food writing and recipe development projects.
Even with all the ingredients coming into my house, however, it’s still costing me less than if I ate the same amount of food via takeout, delivery, frozen dinners, boxed mixes or processed meals.
That’s because my monthly meal plans go heavy on the vegetarian options that still scratch that comfort food itch—like these peanut noodles with an incredibly tangy and umami-rich sauce.
Dare I say that I prefer my homemade peanut noodles to the takeout standard?
Over the past year, I’ve tested a lot of peanut sauce recipes on my poor husband in my attempts to expand his palate. And I really, truly, honestly think my recipe is the best out there.
It doubles up on acid with both fresh lime juice and rice vinegar to balance the rich peanut butter and sesame oil.
I go big on the ginger because it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that zing.
And as much as I love palm sugar and coconut sugar, there’s something about using plain old granulated sugar here that keeps all the flavors bright and clean.
You can toss this peanut sauce with any noodles you happen to have in your pantry. Dried soba or chow mein, thick or thin rice noodles, or even spaghetti or linguine in a pinch—they’ll all do the job.
It’s a simple way to make a vegetarian meal with freaking loads of flavor on a budget.
When you’re eating mostly vegetarian, there’s a lot of meals that can help keep your grocery bills in a manageable state while still giving you full satisfaction.
And as I reported in a recent story for CNN Science and Wellness, cutting down on meat consumption really does make a difference.
It’s true, you totally could order a $5 dish of cold peanut noodles from your local Chinese restaurant.
But after waiting for and tipping on delivery (you are tipping your delivery workers, right?) you’ll be spending just as much time and money as if you’d made the meal from scratch.
Even better, your homemade version of peanut noodles has a super helping of fresh, healthy vegetables to boot!
This recipe is one of the simplest examples of how vegetarian pantry staples will help you eat better and cheaper in the long run.
And while green beans are a top five favorite vegetable in our household, don’t write this recipe off if they’re not you’re thing. You can bulk up your peanut noodles with any protein or vegetable that you prefer.
Other Vegetable Add-Ins for Peanut Noodles
- crispy baked tofu
- tender greens like spinach or baby kale (just toss them in the water to wilt them quickly)
- crunchy vegetables like shredded cabbage or bean sprouts
- chopped sugar snap peas
- sliced colorful bell peppers
- pickled chilies
*Back in the dark ages of my collegiate years, Walmart and Weis Market were the most easily accessible stores for us youths. You kids today don’t even know how rough we had it!
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons hot sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 pound green beans, trimmed
- 8 ounces (1/2 pound) ramen noodles, soba noodles, or rice noodles
- sliced scallions
- fresh cilantro leaves
- chopped roasted peanuts
- sesame seeds
- Fill a large (6-quart) pot with water and bring to a boil.
- In a small food processor or blender, blend the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime zest and juice, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger, and 1/4 cup water until smooth.
- Transfer to a large serving bowl.
- Add the green beans and noodles to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Drain the noodles and green beans and toss with the peanut sauce.
- Top the sauced noodles with the garnishes of your choice.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 849Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 759mgCarbohydrates: 123gFiber: 12gSugar: 17gProtein: 29g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.
This recipe was originally published on March 26, 2012 and updated with new content and images on March 31, 2021.
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