Don’t Call It Peanut Butter Pasta!

Online Extra: Thai Satay Pasta Salad, July 2002

Whenever my wife, Liz, lets slip that she’s prepared "peanut butter pasta" for dinner, guests invariably step back, screw up their faces, and say, "Peanut butter?" But put it in more ethnic terms and they’re delighted to be served this cool, Thai satay salad. The following is an easily prepared adaptation of the Thai favorite, using more readily available ingredients than tamarind, fish sauce, and rice noodles.

Satay Pasta Salad

1 pound fusilli or shell pasta

Peanut Sauce:
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 onion, chopped finely
6 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
3 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce (or to taste)
2 teaspoons brown ssugar (or to taste)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
6 or more tablespoons boiling water
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
2-3 sprigs parsley
1 head lettuce

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse in fresh water. In a small saucepan, lightly saute the garlic and onion in sesame oil for about one minute (onions should still be crisp). Remove and pour atop pasta. Using the same pan, turn heat very low and add peanut butter, chili sauce, sugar, and soy sauce. Add small amounts of water and stir until a light, creamy consistency is achieved. Remove from heat. Mix sauce into pasta and toss until well coated. Refrigerate until potluck time (up to one day) tossing well again after removing from fridge. Garnish with chopped peanuts and parsley, and serve on a bed of fresh, washed lettuce leaves, if available.