Entrée, Gluten Free

PEANUT SAUCE BENTO BOWL

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Why are there consistently bottomless leftovers from Thanksgiving? I went by my parents house today and there remain two giant tupperware full of stuffing. I didn't take home any leftovers and still do not want to look at any dish that represents colonial America. Our dinner this year was great. The food was lovely, we were in good company, my grandma said inappropriate things to new guests, my mom fell four feet off a stool getting mugs and bruised her entire left side, the dogs ate so many scraps they threw up in the garage....you know, the usual. There were vegetables present at the table, but I have been craving something light, crispy and resembling a place far far away from the motherland of butter, salt and starch. Not to mention that Hugh often asks for asian food, and it's the last culture I lean towards for inspiration, so it was about time to compromise.

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I'm not going to say "this is the best peanut sauce recipe I've tasted", but it was a nice change and certianly good enough to make again. I have read that using Skippy or Jiff yields a better consistency, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I like the idea of a mix of raw and steamed vegetables with a savory sauce, so you can play around with it. A traditional Japanese bento box typically includes a lean protien, rice, pickled vegetable and represents a balanced, complete meal. This is our intrepretation... Thai meets Japan... every component gets along quite well in this lovely bowl of goodness.

PEANUT SAUCE BENTO BOWL// Serves 2

12 oz. Extra Firm Tofu

1/2 lb. Soba or Rice Noodles

1 Bell Pepper, thinly sliced

4 Baby Bok Choy

2 Carrots, Shaved with a Vegetable Peeler

Half a Cucumber, Sliced on a Bias

4 Scallions, Halved Length Wise

Sesame Oil

Cilantro for Garnish

1/3 Cup Pickled Ginger

PEANUT SAUCE//

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter

1/2 Cup Light Coconut Milk

1/2 Cup Water

1 tbsp. Tamari/Soy Sauce

1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

2 tsp. Lime Juice

2 tbsp. Agave

1 Shallot, finely chopped

2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped

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2 tsp. Canola/Peanut Oil

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the noodles. Drain and press the tofu. Cut it into cubes and saute on medium heat with 1 tsp. sesame oil until lightly browned. Be gentle so the tofu stays in cube form.

2. Start the sauce. Saute the the garlic and shallot in the oil to soften, whisk in the peanut butter, coconut milk, water, agave and soy sauce and mix to combine. Sprinkle in the red pepper flakes. When all ingredients are warmed through, add the lime juice. Add spices as you wish here.

3. In a steamer basket, or pan filled 1'' with water. Steam the bok choy, scallions and bell peppers for 6 minutes with the lid on (time may vary). Remove.

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4. Cook the noodles according to instructions. Drain and drizzle a little sesame oil to prevent them from sticking. Mix the tofu with desired amount of sauce so it looks like a creamy mess. Lay the tofu on top of the noodles and arrange the bok choy, peppers, cucumber, pickled ginger and shaved carrots along side. Sprinkle everything with sesame seeds and fresh chopped cilantro.