Keeping vegan home cooking interesting can be really hard. When I have attempted this in the past, I’ve ended up eating the same things again, and again…and again (and lots of unsatisfying “rabbit food”). So I turned to one of my favorite chefs, Amanda Cohen, to give me some advice (I’ve also heard she has a killer vegan peanut noodle recipe). In case you don’t know about her, Chef Cohen is a total bad ass: not only is she own one of the most celebrated vegetarian restaurants on the East Coast, Dirt Candy, she also wrote a comic book cookbook, and doesn’t take any crap from any one. Her fantastic response to TIME Magazine’s insulting and controversial The Gods Of Food list, which didn’t include any female chefs was a spot on response to an absolute outrage. I have had the pleasure of interviewing Amanda at two different conferences and I am always blown away by her brilliance, eloquence, focus, and humility. Here she shares her vegan peanut noodle recipe and tips on how to keep vegan home cooking interesting (hint: don’t food shop at the same places!)
Elettra: Amanda, what would be the best place to do vegan grocery store shopping? Also, can you please reveal your vegan peanut noodle recipe to me? PLEASE!!!!
Amanda: In terms of vegan grocery shopping advice, the only thing I’d say is to stay away from all that processed vegan cheese and fake meat, and instead eat good tofu, beans and vegetables. And noodles will be your best friend. Head to Chinatown and get a bunch of fancy looking noodles and vegetables that you’ve never had before so that when you want a quick snack you’ve got something to look forward to. There are tons of great tofus down there – smoked, spiced, fried, silky – and that’s a nice thing to add to a snack too instead of fake frozen chicken nuggets.
I’d also recommend cooking up a bunch of grains one day a week; that way when you get home late from work or need to make a quick lunch the component of the meal that takes the longest to cook is already prepared and just needs to be reheated.
The inspiration for the vegan peanut noodle recipe came from a New York Times recipe that I then made my own. I used dried spaghetti – not even fancy noodles – and threw about 1/2 cup of peanut butter in a blender, then poured in a little rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and a few tablespoons of sesame oil to thin it out and blended it until smooth and relatively loose (adding water to get it thinned down). I minced ginger and garlic and sautéed it in a pan with some canola oil, then added the sauce and cooked it through, added dried chili flakes (because it’s what I had in my cabinet) then poured in the cooked noodles and stirred them around to incorporate them. Also, you need some sautéed snow peas or something in there to give some texture and break up all that peanut butter and noodle taste. And pour some chopped raw scallions over it before eating along with some fresh chopped peanuts.