One of my favorite quick meal fall-backs is peanut sauce. If I need to take something to a party, it’s likely to be a dish of peanut sauce and fresh crudite to dip. But I always make twice or four times as much sauce and use a potluck as an opportunity to stock the freezer with a quick dinner tool: stir fry some fresh vegetables, boil up some noodles, add some frozen shrimp or leftover cooked chicken and mix it all with the sauce.
This yields about 2 cups sauce, enough to use for dipping one night and dinner another.
4 garlic cloves
a little less than 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup water
2 jalapeno chile peppers
Crush the garlic into a saucepan and add soy sauce, peanut butter, sugar and water. Start the mixture on low-medium heat. While the sauce is beginning to heat, seed the jalapenos and cut them into small slivers (Wear rubber gloves to protect against hot pepper injuries to your eyes or nose!). Add the slivered jalapeno to the sauce and bring the whole thing to a simmer, stirring to smooth it. Simmer about 5 minutes to heat and combine well. Remove from heat and let cool. If the sauce ends up too thin, cook it a little longer to thicken. If it’s too thick, thin it with a little hot water. Serve half the sauce with crudite for dipping. Freeze the remainder in 1-cup portions.
When you want a quick dinner, thaw the frozen sauce and stir to smooth it. Stir fry any combination of fresh vegetables and boil some spaghetti, udon, linguine or other strand-shape pasta. Drain the pasta, reserving the water. When the vegetables are almost done, toss in some frozen shrimp or some cooked, leftover chicken or pork. Add the sauce and some of the pasta water to the pan of vegetables and stir to make a nice, coating sauce. Add the drained pasta, stir and serve.