To curb a budding takeout addiction, I learned how to make Pad Thai at home. Although some recipes call for a substitute of lime juice, the dish traditionally relies on tamarind for its acidity, so I purchased a jar of tamarind paste. I have since become smitten with its sour-sweet bite and am experimenting with other ways to use this new-to-me ingredient. Otherwise, that jar would wind up forgotten in condiment purgatory, better known as the door of the fridge.
So far I’ve been sticking with riffs of Pad Thai: rice noodles, vegetables, and roughly Asian ingredients. I’m sure it’s all far from authentic, but what’s more traditional than taking what you have on hand to put together a meal? The recipe below is a recent dinner using tamarind that comes together quickly and with relatively few ingredients but is still flavorful and satisfying. If you try it out, let me know what you think. And please pass along any of your tamarind-inspired recipes – It’s no small jar!
Rice Noodles and Green Beans with Tamarind-Almond Butter Sauce
• 1/2 lb green beans (or three large handfuls), cut into bite-sized pieces
• 6 oz linguine-style rice noodles
• 1/4 cup creamy almond butter
• 2 tbsp tamarind paste
• 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
• 1 tbsp rice vinegar
• 1 tbsp honey
• 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
1. 1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. While waiting on the water, in a small bowl mix together the almond butter, tamarind, soy sauce, and rice vinegar, honey and chili flakes. You may need to add upward of a ¼ c of water to bring the sauce to the consistency of salad dressing.
2. 2. Add the green beans to the boiling water. After a minute or two, turn off the burner and add the rice noodles. The rice noodles should be softened and the green beans fork tender in about five minutes. Strain the water and return the beans and noodles to the pot. Toss with the tamarind-almond butter sauce and serve immediately.
3. Serves 2 generously