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Choose Your Own Adventure: Peanut Butter Pile

July 8, 2010

This recipe, the third in a series about PILE↑, harks back to Chinese sesame noodles. Which, you know, are traditionally eaten cold. Somehow, I powered through the 99-ness of yesterday, without AC, to boil up some linguini and have this in the fridge for an immediate, early, no fuss dinner.

It was worth it because Henry snacked on ice in his high chair and watched me the whole time, and his dad was on the newscast, and life was pretty good.

Where I use measurements, it is only so as not to completely annoy you. This, like all pile (and like most recipes), is “to taste.” And even the baby double fists this one, because though it is spicy, it is well balanced.

The italicized ingredients in the big lists below are the ones that I used yesterday, though I have used them all at different times.


1/4 C natural peanut butter (or, you know, Jif if it’s there)

1/4 C Soy Sauce or gluten free or low sodium soy sauce

2 T Vinegar (Rice wine is preferable, I used apple cider yesterday, you could get away with balsamic but it might be kind of weird, do not use red wine, and I wouldn’t even use white)

2 T Sugar (I used agave syrup because I’ve learned that it’s bad for you and I’m trying to use it up so I can pretend that the whole agave incident never happened)

2 squeezes of Sriracha, or other chili sauce (This is optional. Don’t use salsa, but you could use a vinegar-based chili sauce or a chili paste. Or you can use a bit of cayenne.)

Mix all sauce ingredients together. Does it taste delicious but too intense, and like you need a noodle to soak it up? If so, bravo! If not, decide if you want it creamier, saltier, more acidic, sweeter, or hotter, and adjust, adjust, adjust.

Boil 1/2 lb. linguini or spaghetti al dente. (You might want to make it with soba noodles. Or you might not, since they cost $7 where I found them, for 1/2 the quantity of the organic pasta, which was less than a third of that — though still twice regular pasta.)

Meanwhile, sautee or steam any or all or none of the following:






Seitan (firm tofu would also be fine)



Drain the pasta and comb the sauce through with salad claws, or forks. Sprinkle with any or none of the following:


Scallion or chives

Sesame seeds (you can toast them; I’m too tired)

Chopped red pepper (raw)

Cucumber ribbons

Carrot ribbons

Chopped peanuts

Lime juice


Serve in a bowl, hot or cold, with a fork or chopsticks, and don’t ever say I don’t give you options.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 8, 2010 5:34 pm

    I love sriracha–the taste and especially the word!

  2. Nicole permalink
    July 9, 2010 11:16 am

    I can’t wait to try this recipe! Josh and I had another version of peanut butter pile just this week. We had Asian noodles with our own version of a peanut sauce, piled(!) on top of lettuce with zucchini, tofu, scallions, and cucumber. I stacked my noodles high which turned it into quite an impressive tower. Just another one to add to our pile repertoire.

  3. Taylor permalink
    July 9, 2010 2:34 pm

    This is also kind of like pad thai – I’ve used peanut butter for the sauce in a pinch.
    We’ve had 105 degree heat – the last thing I want to eat is anything hot – this perfect – glad you included the lime, that probs really brings out the flavors.
    Whole wheat pasta is a good substitute for soba noodles – which are buckwheat (fortunately I can get all sorts of Asian noodles for cheap in my hood).

  4. Becca V. permalink
    July 13, 2010 7:17 am

    made this last night! as delish and quick as promised. it reminded me of something my mom would have made when i was growing up, when chinese sesame noodles were the height of culinary experimentation.

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