I know very few people who don’t rely on peanut butter as a staple ingredient in the outdoors, be it a spoonful in a bowl of morning oatmeal, a bunch slathered on bread for lunch sandwiches, a sauce for dinner, or just a spoonful when you need an instant energy boost. Unless you’re allergic to peanuts, I am pretty sure that you take a little peanut butter with you whatever kind of trip you’re on.
Since peanut butter is such a common ingredient in the backcountry pantry, making a peanut sauce is an easy way to add flavor to any basic meal. The No Recipe way of making peanut sauce when you’re camping is just to throw in a little peanut butter and soy sauce into whatever dish you are preparing, then mix it in. Today’s recipe is made just slightly more sophisticated thanks to the use of fresh ginger and garlic and the addition of a little chili powder for an extra kick. Be empowered to go off-recipe, though, if you want to increase or decrease the amount of spice.
In this recipe, the peanut sauce is used to douse a bowl of simple sautéed vegetables, but feel free to use it on whatever you want. Noodles, a bowl of lentils, some stir-fried tofu; it would all be made better by this sauce. It wouldn’t surprise me to find someone just making the sauce and eating it all on its own. I’ve done it.
An easy way to make this sauce even more trail-friendly is to prepare the liquid ingredients at home. You can easily mix together the soy sauce and sesame oil in a sealable container, and pack it in your spice kit to be added to the other ingredients when you’re ready to prepare the sauce.
Once you’ve sautéd the vegetables, you will need to put them aside while you prepare the peanut sauce. This only takes a few minutes, but if you have a serving bowl that can be covered with a plate, use that to keep the vegetables warm while you are making the sauce.
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
3 to 4 large kale leaves, torn or chopped into small pieces (including the stem)
1 large carrot, sliced into thin pieces
1 head + stem of broccoli, chopped
About 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) water
Fresh cilantro (optional)
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 cup (2.5 ounces, 70 grams) crunchy, salted peanut butter
2 to 4 tablespoons water
Chop all of your vegetables before starting to cook, this is going to make assembly a little easier. The same goes for the ginger and garlic in your peanut sauce. Set those aside while you prepare the vegetables, and they will be ready for you as soon as you are ready to make the sauce.
Place the olive oil, garlic and onion in a pot and place on medium heat. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until the garlic has turned a light brown. Add the chopped vegetables and stir together. Add in about 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) water, cover the pot and let simmer until the broccoli and carrots have just slightly softened and are tender. If all the water hasn’t cooked off, you can either pour it off or set it aside to add to the sauce.
When the vegetables are ready, remove them from the heat and place them in a bowl or on a plate. Cover if you can so that they stay warm.
To make the sauce, use the now empty pot and add a little bit of olive oil along with the finely chopped garlic and ginger. Saute for about a minute or two, then add the soy sauce, sesame oil and chili powder. Stir together then add the peanut butter. The sauce will be very thick. If you would like the sauce to be runnier, add some water, up to about 1/4 cup (60 milliliters).
Either pour the peanut sauce over the vegetables, or add the vegetables to the pot with the sauce and mix together until the vegetables are covered.
Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and peanuts – dig through your trail mix to get a few – and serve immediately.