Liven up the Party with Spicy Peanut Dressing

Feb 28, 2024

In January, I was a guest on WERU’s Common Ground Radio hour, speaking with Caitlyn Barker from the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association about seasonal eating and cooking in Maine during the colder months.  In our spirited conversation, Caitlyn was interested in how my family ate in late winter, when the root vegetables and squashes are losing their appeal, the garlic is shriveling, and the onions are starting to sprout.

If you homestead and produce a majority of your food, or chose to eat foods that are locally produced, the cuisine this time of year can get quite boring.  How many ways can you roast a squash, rutabaga or potato?  Baby leaves on your beets or hairs (root fibers) on your turnips and carrots?

It’s the end of the long season of the roots.  To liven up the palate, I like to experiment with a different cuisine or taste.   One of my favorite condiments is Spicy Peanut Dressing.  The recipe, one from my archives, was an attempt to recreate a sauce I have enjoyed on a noodle salad made by Chow Maine Foods of Trenton, Maine.

Although I never really was able to totally deconstruct the flavor of Chow Maine Foods’ dressing, the essence of this condiment is perfect to complement the flavors and textures of many different foods.  Plus there’s plenty of room for the home cook to modify the heat to suit the palate of the family and guests.

The recipe is really a balance of the five basic taste qualities: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory.  The sweet and creamy peanut butter is the perfect foil for the salty soy sauce, sour vinegar, piquant ginger, spicy garlic and hot Sriracha sauce.   This is a recipe where starting with small amounts of garlic, ginger and Sriracha is critical.  For best results, taste and adjust the balance of heat and flavors slowly.

Spicy Peanut Dressing is perfect as a marinade for grilled or broiled foods.  We love it on scallops, chicken or rabbit tenders, even pork and beef satay skewers.  Over noodles, Spicy Peanut Dressing is addictive (thank you Chow Maine Foods).  Chopped root vegetables really shine when coated with this creamy dressing.

For an attractive, nutritious, and delicious supper, I layered cooked spaghetti noodles with chopped root veggies and Spicy Peanut Dressing, and then topped it off with Broiled Spicy Peanut Scallops.  A masterpiece to liven up the party and the palate!

To learn more about Seasonal Eating in Maine:  visit weru.org, Common Ground Radio 1/11/24: Seasonal Eating in Maine

SPICY PEANUT DRESSING

Cheryl Wixson
Makes one cup dressing: 8 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Tamari or reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha chili sauce more or less to taste
  • Water

Instructions
 

  • To prepare the dressing:
  • Assemble ingredients and tools. Finely chop the garlic and grate the ginger.
  • Measure the peanut butter into a 2-cup clear measuring cup or small glass bowl. To improve the viscosity, warm the mixture for 30 seconds in the microwave.
  • Stir in the rice vinegar and soy sauce. Add the finely grated ginger and chopped garlic. Add the Sriracha chili sauce, stir well, and taste for heat.
  • Add water to the mixture to make one cup dressing. Heat the mixture slightly and stir until well blended. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Cheryl's Notes

Nutritional analysis per 2 tablespoons: 32 calories, 1.6 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fat, 272 mg. sodium, less than 1 gram fiber.

 

VEGGIE NOODLE SALAD WITH SPICY PEANUT DRESSING

Cheryl Wixson
Cook extra noodles to make this delicious salad. Pack into a mason jar for an easy lunch

Ingredients
  

  • 2 ounces noodles cooked
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ cup grated carrots
  • ¼ cup chopped red cabbage
  • ¼ cup chopped kale
  • 1 tablespoon chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons Spicy Peanut Dressing

Instructions
 

  • To assemble the salad:
  • Layer the noodles in the bottom of the salad bowl (or mason jar) and toss with the sesame oil.
  • Top the noodles with the grated carrots and arrange the red cabbage and chopped kale around the carrots.
  • Sprinkle with the chopped scallions and top with 2 tablespoons Spicy Peanut Dressing.

BROILED SPICY PEANUT SCALLOPS

Cheryl Wixson
Serves 2 generously

Ingredients
  

  • ½ pound Maine scallops
  • 2 tablespoons Spicy Peanut Dressing

Instructions
 

  • Add the scallops to a shallow pan and spoon dressing over the top. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or more.
  • Broil scallops 4 inches from heat for 3 minutes. Turn and broil for another 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Serve as an entrée over rice, or as a protein on VEGGIE NOODLE SALAD

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