Sundays are BBQ nights at our house, according to my new theme menu plan (which, by the way, is working out smashingly). For us, that usually means either burgers or dogs. But sometimes we get fancy and make chicken shishlik… or steak (birthdays only – keepin’ it on a budget!).
As far as sides, I like to make up a variety of salads and then keep leftovers for during the week. I especially like to toss in some of the fresh herbs we’ve got growing out on the deck.
There is the traditional potato salad (with dill) or the three-bean salad (with tons of cilantro). Chopped Israeli salad with a squeeze of lemon and parsley, or cherry tomato and basil salad (with LOADS of the aromatic basil).
But one of my favorite salads – both because I like it so very much, and because my kids deign to eat it in copious amounts – is a simple peanut noodle salad with cilantro and scallions (truth be told, I leave out the scallions for my 5 year old).
Close-to-Perfect Peanut Noodle Salad
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
- scant 1/4 cup soy sauce (I prefer to use the low sodium kind)
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
- 1 medium garlic clove, chopped
- 2 tablespoons rice wine or apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
- 1-2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, optional
- 1/2 cup or more chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions, both white and green parts (but not too much green)
- 1 box fine spaghetti or linguini
- 3 tablespoons chopped peanuts, optional (I leave these out in a pinch and it’s still great – just not as crunchy)
Puree the first eight ingredients (through the honey) in a blender or food process and set aside. If you aren’t a huge ginger fan, you can just barely sautee the ginger and garlic in a drop of oil before pureeing. It mellows the flavors a little.
Meanwhile, boil the noodles until al dente. Immediately toss with all but a two-ish tablespoons of the dressing. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Before serving, bring to room temperature, then toss with most of the cilantro, scallions and peanuts, reserving a tablespoon or two of each.
Zap the remaining peanut sauce in the microwave for 10 seconds and drizzle over the noodles. Garnish with remaining cilantro, scallions and peanuts.
Note: This recipe is even better after it sits for a while. So try making it early in the day – or even the night before you want to eat it.
Okay, it’s your turn to dish your favorite BBQ dishes. I’m thinking sides, but if you have a killer rub or marinade, feel free to share that, too.