Thursday, February 2, 2012

Asian Pesto with Rice Noodles

Last week we made Sun-Dried Tomato and Toasted Walnut Pesto, a slight deviation from traditional basil and pine nut pesto--the pesto everyone knows and loves.  This week, Simon, Rachel, and I took the departure from tradition one step further in making Asian Pesto with Rice Noodles.     

Noodles and pesto with vegetables, garnished with chopped peanuts
Asian Pesto with Rice Noodles
  • 1 - 16 ounce package rice noodles (we used "Pad Thai Rice Sticks")
  • 1 cup packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 cup packed mint leaves
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped peanuts for garnish
First, prepare the rice noodles according to the package instructions. 

Meanwhile, prepare the pesto.  Place the cilantro, mint, basil, peanuts, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, and hot sauce in a food processor and process until chopped.  With the lid on the food processor and the processor running, add the vegetable oil and process until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Combine the noodles and pesto, garnish with peanuts and serve hot.  Yields about 6 servings.  



This dish was surprising.  There are so many flavors going on at once in each bite!  Between the cilantro and mint and basil, plus the rice noodles, the taste was somewhat unconventional, or unexpected.  Far from being a bad thing, though, the result is a pleasantly fresh, flavorful dish.  Plus, the peanut garnish adds a satisfying crunch.
The rice noodles were easy to find in the international section of Giant.  Unfortunately, sesame oil is a relatively expensive oil and this recipe doesn't call for much of it.  I decided to buy a small bottle of sesame oil, though, so you can expect more recipes that include it.  
Ease of Preparation:   
This dish was incredibly simple to make, but we were shocked at how long the rice noodles took to prepare.  The instructions said to soak them in warm water for 45 minutes, but they took even longer since the water got cold.  If your rice noodles require the same preparation, I recommend that you keep the burner on low to keep the water warm.       
Non-vegan friendliness:   
I recommend this dish to anyone looking for an interesting, flavorful meal--that's everyone, I imagine.    

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