We’ve had a REALLY hot summer in Colorado, which means that cooking has been all about throwing something together in a way that skirts around the oven or the stove. This has made any and all efforts to clean out the cabinets a bit more easy and interesting; the tiny jars of dried fruits, small quantities of grains, random pouches of flours and little Ziploc bags of nuts in the freezer are being thrown in the rice cooker, blended up random smatterings in the food processor, and garnished unexpectedly. Most of the time, we end up with yummy little taste memories, and some that we keep for a while. The other afternoon, I found a little bag of roasted + salted peanuts and knew immediately I had hit the jackpot.
Peanuts may take you back to the nostalgic airplane travels old, but for me specifically they take me to Thailand, and to eating bowls on bowls of my favorite green papaya salads with mango lassi under the umbrella of a street vendor, as motorbikes and tuk-tuks whizzed past at warp speed. So that’s where I started to take that little bag of peanuts in my kitchen. We ended up with a quick, easy, and perfect for everyday recipes.
I love this sauce with a healthy amount of ginger, a kick of citrus, and just enough spice to warm the back of your throat. And, I like it to be just thick enough for me to dollop on rice; I can thin it out with water or coconut milk later if I want to use it as a salad dressing. That said, I’ve written the general recipe below to be something in between. Just know that the most important ingredient is your own intuition; this peanut sauce will be the BEST if you’re tasting, tasting, tasting and making it your own.
On the night I found the fresh peanuts, I was also being inspired by a green papaya I found at the Asian grocery (which is where I suggest you hunt for one too.) I pulled together a fresh, Thai-style rice “salad…” which could really be more of a bowl, depending on who you are and your disposition towards this sort of thing but regardless, you’ll see the general recipe for it below as well. It’s one of those “DIY” meals that allow those with more inclination towards rice to stock up, those that want more veggies than grains to get down, and everyone to have a bowl to their liking without ever introducing heat to your kitchen (EXCEPT, in the peanut sauce!) You could add or subtract vegetables from the short-list depending on what you have on hand, but I really like the green papaya here. If you’ve never had green papaya before, you’re in for a treat; it’s a cleansing, cooling ingredient that – when combined with the fresh herbs – makes for something super fresh. The leftovers – of both the sauce and the salad – make for great sandwiches, wraps, or rice bowls for the rest of the week too.
Enjoy this one! xoxo from full-blown summer! – L
- 1 cup unsalted peanut butter, creamy or crunchy as you prefer
- 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic
- 3 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
- zest and juice of one large lime
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
- 3 Tbsp. Bragg's Liquid Aminos or tamari sauce
- 2 tsp. rice vinegar
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- 2-4 Tbsp. full fat coconut milk (more for a thinner consistency)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, optional
- water, to thin as needed
- fresh, spicy greens
- cooked jasmine rice
- fresh, sliced red pepper, carrots, cucumber and red onion
- grated green papaya
- cilantro, mint and basil, chopped
- roasted + salted peanuts, and lime wedges to taste
- In the bowl of a food processor or powerful blender, combine all of the ingredients - reserving the cilantro - and run until smooth. Taste and adjust the flavor as you prefer. Add the cilantro, give it another few pulses and then transfer to an airtight jar. Keep in the fridge for up to two weeks!
- **I like to make this sauce rather creamy, then thin it as needed with water or more coconut milk. It's handy to have it a bit more creamy if you're spreading it on a sandwich and a bit thinner if you're using it as a dressing for the thai salad (like that I show above!)
- Assemble in individual bowls, to your liking. I scoop a healthy bit of rice in the bottom, then top with all the fresh accoutrements and finish with a drizzle of the peanut sauce and a sprinkling of peanuts and herbs.