One of the most fun things about cooking is doing it for other people. When Serena Wolf’s gloriously cheeky The Dude Diet came out this week, I knew the recipe I picked should be for my dude. When I met Zack (nine years ago!), I couldn’t cook at all. I would serve him bowls of microwave oatmeal heaped with Splenda and call it breakfast, while he, born and raised in progressive Berkeley, tried to get me hooked on farmer’s markets and the glory of fresh vegetables (his elementary school was actually the site of Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters’ edible schoolyard). Zack was actually the person who introduced me to home-cooked Asian food. He had just purchased an “art of zen cooking” book when we started dating and our second date took place over scallion pancakes that he oh-so-casually whipped up for (already smitten) me. When I spotted these healthy peanut noodles, made with gluten-free buckwheat noodles and packed with tons of colorful vegetables, I knew I had to make them, and I was right: they were instantly a hit with Zack, and I got the win of making a super delicious dinner in less than 20 minutes.
That’s one of my favorite parts of The Dude Diet, which was inspired by Serena’s attempts to clean up her own dude’s eating habits, while still making nachos and lasagna and enchiladas and all the decadent food guys (humans!) typically love. Everything is just healthy enough – a swapped out flour here, a snuck-in vegetable there – without sacrificing any flavor or crave-worthiness. And it’s all easy. Even though Serena trained at Le Corden Bleu Paris (so fancy!), the recipes are appropriate for even the biggest kitchen novice. Accessible health, packed into delicious, drool-inspiring dishes? It’s about as up my alley as a cookbook comes.
And these noodles, guys. They’re the kind of weeknight staple I’m always looking for. The recipe calls for bell peppers, scallions, cilantro and carrots, but truly, you can toss in any vegetable that you have in your fridge – broccoli and cauliflower would be amazing, as would some roasted sweet potato. The trick is in the sauce, a perfectly-umami, nutty, garlicky, lime-y masterpiece that turns everything it touches into tastebud gold. Because I’m not a huge fan of peanuts, I swapped in cashew butter, and it still tasted amazing (I suspect almond butter would be incredible as well). Because everything is basically just whisked together, it takes about 10 seconds to make, and is packed with antiviral and antibacterial components from the garlic, plus protein from whatever nut butter you choose. It’s basically magic sauce, and my dude (and this dudette) whole-heartedly approve.
The rest of Serena’s book (and her blog, Domesticate Me), contain equally delicious, decadent recipes. I’m talking Apple Pie Overnight Oats, Maple Bourbon Roasted Almonds, Southwestern Stuffed Peppers, Carrot Cake Cupcakes and more. Everything is healthified, but again, not too much – that’s the whole charm. If you’d like, you can grab a copy online now!
- 8 ounces buckwheat soba noodles (I used black rice noodles and they worked equally well – use what you can find, but check that it contains only buckwheat if you’re gluten free, as some companies mix buckwheat and wheat together)
- 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
- 3/4 cup shelled edamame (if using frozen edamame, thaw according to package directions)
- 3/4 cup shredded carrots
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 3 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
For the Sauce
- 1/4 chunky peanut butter or nut butter of choice (look for one with only one ingredient – nuts!)
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 garlic clove, grated or finely minced
- 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When boiling add the soba noodles and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or just until tender. Drain the noodles immediately and rinse them well with cold water to keep them from sticking together. Transfer to a large bowl and add the sesame oil. Toss gently to coat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce except the water. Add the water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and pourable.
- Add the sauce to the noodles and toss gently to coat. Add vegetables and toss again.
- Serve the noodles warm, at room temperature, or cold, garnished with cilantro.