Our house does not have air conditioning. (Yes, Wisconsin does get hot —sometimes downright steamy — in the summer.) Most of the time this is manageable, since we are shaded by the many trees on our property, but keeping the house cool requires strategic planning. We open all the windows at night and set up half a dozen fans, then early in the morning we shut everything down.
We also cook as much as possible outside on the grill. Any inside cooking is done late at night or early in the morning. I made the pasta pictured above on one of these steamy days. The only cooking necessary was the ditalini. I usually prefer soba noodles but we were out, and the ditalini, tiny pasta tubes, held onto the sauce quite well.
It’s nice to have a few versatile sauces in your repertoire. I’ve been making this peanut sauce in one version or another since my son’s birth 17 years ago. Peanut butter, soy sauce, teriyaki, ginger, garlic, sriracha, and the subtle surprise of freshly squeezed orange juice combine for a burst of sweet-hot-salty flavor. It is delicious hot or cold, as a pasta sauce or an accompaniment to pork or chicken.
Transparently thin ribbons of raw carrot add a lovely crunch. The sweet carrots and red peppers bring out the molasses flavor of the teriyaki. I’ve also made this with slivered raw snow peas, or briefly steamed broccoli or asparagus. Feathery lavender chive blossoms are a pretty garnish and contribute an oniony punch; minced chives or plain ole parsley
(makes about 1 cup)
2/3 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste and Glaze*
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
2 tbs. soy sauce
the juice of 1/2 orange
1 tbs. sriracha sauce (or to taste)
1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 scallion, sliced
1-2 tbs. water, as needed
1 large carrot, peeled
3 cups cooked pasta
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 bell pepper, minced
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (pork works well too)
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
For the sauce: put the teriyaki, peanut butter, soy sauce, and orange juice in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds until everything’s very warm. This will make it easier to blend the ingredients. Whisk the sauce until it’s smooth. Whisk in garlic, ginger, scallions, and 1 tbs. water. If the sauce is too thick, add more water. Set aside to cool. You can make the sauce a few days ahead and stash it in the fridge; it also freezes well.
*Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste & Glaze is thick and somewhat sweet, but not overly salty. If you use another teriyaki sauce, you may need to use less soy sauce and add a teaspoon or two of honey. [Kikkoman does not know that I exist, as far as I know; it’s just my favorite teriyaki sauce.]
For the pasta: Use the vegetable peeler to peel long, thin ribbons from the carrot until it’s all used up and you have a lovely pile of ribbons. Toss the carrot ribbons with the cooked pasta, scallions, bell pepper, chicken, and peanuts. Add the sauce and toss to mix well. Serve cold, at room temperature, or hot.