This pesto calls for lemon grass, cilantro, fish sauce, jalapeno and peanuts. Intrigued? We were. But the combination works and the result is a fabulous concoction to swirl into just-cooked pasta. Serves four.
INGREDIENTS (for 4 servings):
- 1 pound dried rice noodles
- 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup sweet Thai basil
- 2 cloves garlic, halved
- 1/2 teaspoon minced lemon grass bulb
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon vegetarian fish sauce
- 4 tablespoons chopped, unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
- 7 tablespoons canola oil
- 1/2 lime, cut into wedges
- salt and pepper to taste
Soak rice noodles in a large bowl of cold water for 30 minutes. Drain the noodles, and set them aside.
Make the pesto: In a blender or food processor combine the chopped cilantro, basil, garlic cloves, lemongrass, jalapeno peppers, imitation fish sauce or salt, and 2 tablespoons of the peanuts. Whirl just until the herbs and peanuts are coarsely chopped. While the machine is running add the oil in a thin stream. Then add the remaining peanuts and run the machine in short spurts until the peanuts are coarsely chopped.
Place soaked rice noodles into a large skillet with 1/2 cup water over medium-high heat. Stir until most of the water has been absorbed and the noodles are tender.
Add almost all of the pesto, and stir well, adding a few tablespoons of water if the pesto is clumping.
Taste the pasta and add more pesto, lime juice, imitation fish sauce, salt, or pepper if you like. Garnish the pasta with the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanuts, and serve right away.