Spicy Rice Noodles with Broccoli, Red Peppers and Cashews

Oh my goodness, does anyone have a leaf blower? Better yet, does anyone have a leaf blower and enjoy blowing leaves (hint, hint)? There was a barnburner of a wind and rain storm in Lake Country last night, and whichever leaves still clung to the limbs of the trees overhanging the RV pad yesterday are today stuck to it like glue.

I took a push broom to the leaves for a few minutes this morning (holding Hunter in my other arm, BTW – how’s that for multi-tasking), but instead of sweeping them into neat piles succeeded only in grinding them further into the pavement. Is there a trick to this? I’ve lived in apartment buildings for over 15 years and haven’t had to tend to anything garden waste-related for at least that long, so I’m a little out of the loop. My elderly neighbours seemed to have no problem raking and bagging up their leaves, and had finished doing so before 9am, making me feel like the lazy sod of the trailer park as I kicked back on the couch with my morning coffee and trashy novel. Thanks a lot, ladies. I wonder if I brought them some of the banana bread I baked last night they’d give me a few pointers. Nah. I’m not one to advocate a gendered division of labour, but in this case I’ll make an exception and volunteer Mike take care of the leaves when he gets home from work.

With all manual labour obligations delegated, I was free to get back to my usual routine of cooking and eating. I was looking forward to making this dish all weekend because it meant a long overdue reunion with one of my favourite vegetables, broccoli! For ages broccoli was my go-to leafy green. I’d put that sh*t in everything. Then it was kale. Then baby bok choy. Then kale again. I realized when I was grocery shopping a couple days ago it had been ages since I made a broccoli dish, and decided to rectify the situation immediately.

This recipe isn’t new per se – I think I first cobbled it together about 7 years ago – but I put a new spin on it for this post by replacing the tofu with toasted cashews (I’m trying to reduce my soy consumption and cashews are nutritious and delicious), adding in red pepper for colour, and using rice noodles in place of rice, just for kicks. This dish has remained one of my favourites because I simply never tire of the interplay between perfectly cooked, emerald green broccoli and the Spicy Hoisin Sauce. As I explained here, I experienced a bit of culture shock when we moved away from Vancouver and suddenly had fewer good Asian restaurants at our disposal. But what was initially a bummer is actually encouraging me to incorporate more Asian flavours into my home cooking, which is always a good thing!

Note: This recipe is tagged gluten-free but I realized when I read the ingredient list on the jar of hoisin paste that it contains some wheat flour. So if you’re very sensitive to gluten you might want to find a wheat-free hoisin or use black bean sauce instead. Just be sure to use it sparingly because it’s very salty!

Recipe: Spicy Rice Noodles with Broccoli, Red Peppers and Cashews

Makes 2 meal-size servings, or 4 smaller ones

Ingredients:

  • 125g rice stick noodles
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups of broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 small red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews

Spicy Hoisin Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup hoisin paste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons Sambal Olek
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup water

Method:

Prepare rice stick noodles: Cook rice stick noodles according to package instructions, or until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Prepare Spicy Hoisin Sauce: In a small bowl whisk together hoisin paste, ginger, garlic, Sambal Olek, vinegar and water. Set aside.

Prepare cashews: In a small skillet over low-medium heat, toast cashews until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute broccoli and red peppers in 1/4 cup olive olive until tender crisp. Reduce heat and add Spicy Hoisin Sauce to skillet, stirring gently until combined with broccoli and peppers. Gently fold in rice noodles, then cashews. Once noodles have warmed through, divide into two bowls and eat!

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