It’s been over two weeks since I last posted a main course recipe. It hasn’t been two weeks since I cooked a main course, but sometimes cooking and posting do not go hand in hand. Truthfully, I have been in a bit of a cooking rut lately. I feel restless and agitated which is not conducive to good menu planning. When I feel this way, I tend to want to revisit things I have already made and that does not an interesting food blog make. (Curiously, I seem to have no problem with baking. Hmmm.)
The best way to get out of a rut, in my opinion, is to choose a type of cuisine that you love and then turn to a cookbook that you trust. In my ennui, I picked up my still relatively new but already much beloved copy of Plenty and begged it to inspire me. Of course, it did.
The mere fact that I have a “noodles” category on my side bar (which is different from the “pasta” category) should tell you that I am passionate about Asian noodles. I will happily eat any variety but I think rice noodles are my favorite. Pair them with a homemade curry paste and coconut milk and we are venturing into “I could eat this everyday” territory. I’ve made other variations on this theme before but this particular recipe had me swooning. The curry paste is incredibly flavorful and actually, not hot. I seeded my chiles because, although I love spice, you just never know. I won’t next time.
Some notes and tips. Ottolenghi instructs you to toss both the cooked noodles and broccolini with sesame oil. I opted out of that to keep the dish healthier and also because I couldn’t see that distinctive sesame flavor as welcome here. I made the mistake of adding Kaffir lime leaves to both the paste and the noodles and wow – yum. I’ll continue to do that. Ottolenghi says you can make this noodle dish with a store-bought green curry paste in a pinch but I say his paste is precisely what makes it taste magical, as stated above. Do yourself a favor and double it. This kind of paste can keep for several weeks, covered, in the refrigerator. The changes I made are reflected in the recipe below.
My Whole Foods always has Kaffir lime leaves. Wide rice noodles are specified in the book but I couldn’t find them so I used Pad Thai width. I would avoid the ones that are angel hair width.
1 pound broccolini, cut into florets with long stems
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. brown sugar
7 Kaffir lime leaves
1 14-ounce can “lite” coconut milk
1 14-ounce package rice noodles
Juice of 1 lime, plus wedges for garnish
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 medium green chiles, seeded (or not) and roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, outer layer and tough ends removed, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
7 Kaffir lime leaves
½ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cumin
Grated zest and juice of 1 small lime
Start by making the paste. Place all the ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor and blend to a paste. You might need to stop once or twice to scrape the mixture back down from the sides of the bowl or add a little water to it to loosen it up.
Sauté the onion with the oil in a medium saucepan for 3 or 4 minutes, or until translucent. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Add a teaspoon of salt, the sugar, lime leaves and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes.
Bring two medium saucepans of salted water to a boil In one, cook the rice noodles for 3-6 minutes (check the package instructions and don’t overcook them). In the other cook the broccolini for 2 minutes. Drain each one and run cold water over them, running your fingers through the noodles to make sure they aren’t sticking together. Squeeze the lime juice over the noodles and sprinkle with salt.
Divide the noodles among shallow bowls and top with the broccolini. Spoon the sauce over top and garnish with the chopped cilantro and lime wedges.