This month, we dare to make our own nut butters, and use them in a savoury dish. I’ve done the peanut sauce thing before, and have used ground almonds to thicken curries (almost counts as a nut butter… almost more of a nut flour, but close enough!). I’m totally open to having a nutty dinner.
Being busy as I have been lately, I took the path of least resistance and used cashew butter in a Thai-inspired noodle salad (one of the recommended recipes). I know I should have picked something a little more challenging for myself, but how could I resist a simple meal that was destined to be amazing?
Amazing it was. I am a sucker for this kind of thing.
First, I had to make the cashew butter. I figured it would taste that much better if I roasted the cashews first, so I quickly pan roasted them. Some of the oils escaped in the roasting, so I had to add some vegetable oil when I made the butter. My trusty food processor was great at grinding up the cashews, but they needed the extra oil to come together properly and form a paste. I probably would have thinned it out a little more but I knew I was making a sauce next, so I didn’t worry about it too much.
I decided to follow the sauce recipe as closely as possible. I was tempted to add some of the things I add to my own sauce, like keffir lime leaf, but I stayed pretty true to the recipe. What’s the point in remaking my own sauce recipes over again? I wanted to try something new. I chickened out about the amount of garlic, though. As much as I love garlic, 8 cloves sounded a little bit steep. I used 4, and it was plenty garlicky enough.
The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.
Recipe after the jump!
Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing
Adapted from the recipe recommended by the Daring Kitchen.
Cashew Butter: 1 cup (240 ml) cashews (I roasted mine, but then had to add a bit of vegetable oil when preparing the butter)
- ½ inch (1 cm) slice of fresh ginger, chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, more or less to taste, chopped (I used only 4)
- ½ cup (120 ml) cashew butter
- ¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons (45 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 3 Tablespoons (45 ml) toasted sesame oil
- ¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon (75 ml) water
- Hot sauce to taste (optional)
- 1/2 pound (225 g) thin rice noodles
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
- 1/2 pound (225 g) medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 large red bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into thin strips
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced
- 1/4 cup garlic scape pieces (blanched or sautéed) (I had to add these – obsessed!)
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) sliced green onions
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) chopped fresh basil
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) whole roasted cashews (optional garnish)
- Lime wedges (optional)
- Make cashew butter: Grind cashews in food processor for about 2 minutes until smooth. (*Or start with ½ cup (120 ml) prepared cashew butter.) I had to add a little bit of vegetable oil to get it to come together. I think some of the natural cashew oil was lost during the roasting.
- Prepare cashew dressing: Combine ginger, garlic, cashew butter, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and water in food processor or blender. Process/blend until smooth. Be sure to process long enough to puree the ginger and garlic. The dressing should be pourable, about the same thickness as cream. Adjust consistency – thinner or thicker — to your liking by adding more water or cashew butter. Taste and add your favorite hot sauce if desired. (If the cashew butter was unsalted, you may want to add salt to taste.) Makes about 1 ½ cups (360 ml) dressing. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator.
- Prepare noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Rinse and drain noodles. Set aside.
- Heat oil in large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add shrimp to the pan and sauté for about 3 to 4 minutes or until opaque throughout. Alternately, cook shrimp in boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes or until done.
- Slice basil into thin ribbons. Combine noodles, bell pepper, cucumber, onions, and basil in a large bowl. Add about ½ cup (120 ml) cashew dressing; toss gently to coat. Add more cashew dressing as desired, using as much or as little as you’d like. Scatter shrimp on top. Squeeze fresh lime juice over salad or serve with lime wedges. Sprinkle with chopped cashews if desired.