Cruising with my family on our Catalina 400, Circe, has taught me the true value of a fresh vegetable. After weeks anchored out in remote Sea of Cortez bays, when provisions have dwindled to a few packets of dried ramen noodles and similarly beige foods, there’s nothing more appealing than the thought of eating something green. Provisioning days are celebrations—and I always make the same dinner: stir-fried veggies with pasta in peanut sauce. To our produce-deprived crew, it’s more decadent than filet mignon or lobster—a perfect way to honor our fresh vegetables.
The real star here is the sauce. Use whatever veggies you have on hand, or toss them with rice or quinoa. Slice vegetables fairly thinly; either parboil the longer-cooking ones first or add the hard ones to the pan first, delicate ones last. Use medium-to-high heat, and stir constantly to keep them from burning. Once the burner is on, the dish comes together quickly. Bon appétit!
Stir-Fry Veggie Pasta with Peanut Sauce
- 2 Tbsp. canola, peanut or sunflower oil (not olive oil)*
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled
- 2-3 cups broccoli florets
- 2-3 cups carrots, peeled
- 5-6 ounces spaghetti
*Olive oil’s smoke point is too low for stir-fry.
For the sauce:
- 4 Tbsp. peanut butter
- 2-4 Tbsp. soy sauce (to taste)
- 3 Tbsp. honey or mirin (see “Cook’s Notes”)
- 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
- Squeeze of lime (to taste)
- Splash of water, if needed to thin
- 1/4 cup peanuts, crushed
- 1/4 cup green onions or fresh coriander, chopped
Serves two. (Doubles easily.)
Prep veggies and set aside in separate piles: Slice onion. Slice or julienne carrots. Cut florets from broccoli head; halve larger florets. Coarsely mince garlic and ginger. (For faster and more-even cooking and to preserve color, parboil carrots and broccoli in adequate water for 2-3 minutes first. Drain and set aside.)
Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl; taste and adjust all ingredients to your liking. (The sauce will thicken a bit when poured into the hot pan, and the pasta will absorb some liquid.)
Cook pasta, drain, and set aside.
Heat a very large saute pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil, and heat until shimmering. Add onions, and stir-fry for 1 minute or less. Add garlic and ginger, and stir-fry briefly, until fragrant. Quickly add parboiled broccoli, and stir-fry 1-2 minutes. Add carrots, and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add cooked pasta to pan, and toss to mix. Pour in sauce, stirring/tossing to evenly coat veggies and noodles. Turn off heat; remove pan. If sauce looks too thick or grainy, add a splash of water and toss. Serve immediately. Garnish with crushed peanuts, fresh coriander or sliced spring onions, if you have them.
Mirin is a sweet, tangy rice wine. If you can’t get it, use honey and add an extra splash of lime. The peanut sauce keeps for about three days in the fridge, so it can be made ahead of time, or stored if you have sauce left over.