Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables

This recipe is based on one of my favorite dishes that my mom used to make when I was younger.  My mom loves quick and easy recipes, and I always looked forward to when she would make this dish.  I've changed it up a bit, but I think this version is even easier than the original because you don't even have to cook the sauce.  It's the perfect answer to that Chinese take-out craving and will be ready before you know it.    

Unlike a lot of my recipes that only make a couple servings, this recipe makes a huge batch and should serve 8-10 people (or a handful of very hungry guys).  I think it would be a perfect dish to serve when you're entertaining because it doesn't have to be served immediately and can be kept warm in the pot with the top on until you're ready to eat.  Also, you could cut the chicken out of the recipe and make a great vegetarian or vegan meal.  

I have to say that this meal went over very well in our house, and someone even went back for a third helping (I'll let you guess who that was).  If you find yourself with leftovers at the end of the night, these noodles also make a perfect lunch to bring to work during the week.

Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Vegetables
1 lb whole wheat spaghetti
1.5 cups sliced cooked chicken breasts*
1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy and crunchy will both work)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar**
1 Tablespoon olive oil (plus 1-2 teaspoons extra for cooking the vegetables)
2 Tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to taste - know your audience)
1 12-oz. bag broccoli slaw***
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced into thin strips
3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin strips
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup roughly chopped roasted peanuts
Lime wedges for serving (optional)

*I used chicken that I roasted ahead of time using Ina Garten's method, but you can also use a rotisserie chicken or sauté chicken in the pan (step 5) before adding the vegetables.  

**Rice vinegar can be found in the grocery store with other vinegars.  It's used a lot in Asian dishes, and a whole bottle only cost me $1.99 at Trader Joe's.  You'll want to make this dish again, so I'd say it's worth the investment.

***Broccoli slaw is a wonderful invention.  It's so easy to add to a stir-fry or noodle dish like this.  

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat.

2. Whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, olive oil, honey, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a bowl until the sauce is smooth.  Set aside until the end (the sauce is seriously done).

3. Chop the red pepper and carrots and set aside with the broccoli slaw.  Chop the green onions and peanuts and set those aside for the very end.  

4. When the pasta water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions (in this case, 10 minutes).  DO NOT BREAK the pasta.  The long noodles are part of the fun! 

5. While your pasta is cooking, heat about 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. (If you start with uncooked chicken, you should cook it in the pan now).   Add the red pepper and carrots to the pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Lightly salt and pepper the vegetables.  

6. Add the broccoli slaw and cook all the vegetables another 2-3 minutes.  When the vegetables are cooked, but still crisp, add the cooked chicken.  Cook another minute and turn the heat off.    

7. When the pasta has finished cooking, drain, and return immediately to the pot.  Add the cooked vegetables, chicken, green onions, peanuts, and sauce to the pot.  Turn the pasta mixture to coat in the sauce.  Serve with a lime wedge if you like.  Dinner's ready! 

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