This is one of the first recipes that I learned to make on my own when I was in high school. I spent a few weeks visiting my vegan aunt out in Oregon one mid-winter vacation. I was not a vegetarian at the time, although I went through that phase shortly afterwards, and the experience of eating vegan was not as bad as I thought it would be. I discovered Tofutti ice cream, which I still think is delicious, as well as tempeh and tofu on that trip. I cooked a lot with my aunt and this homemade peanut sauce was one of my favorite things that we made. My aunt served it over stir fried vegetables and tempeh and I thought it was so tasty that I wasn't missing the meat at all. When I returned home, this stir-fry became a family staple served with chicken or tofu. The recipe has evolved over the years to include fresh ginger and garlic which I think gives it a fresher and more intense flavor. What I love about this recipe, is that the base ingredients for the sauce - tomato and soy sauce and peanut butter - are typically pantry staples. You can whip up a basic version of this sauce with just those ingredients, add whatever veggies and meat or fish that you like, serve over rice and you have an easy, satisfying and healthy weeknight meal. I made this with 15 adults during my Operation Frontline cooking class a few weeks ago and it was a big hit!
Vegetable Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips and then halved
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 small white onion, halved and cut into thin slices
1 cup baby carrots, halved or quartered lengthwise
2 cups snap peas
21-25 count peeled, de-veined shrimp - approximately 12 for 2 people
1 15 oz can plain tomato sauce, such as Hunts
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
sesame oil (optional)
optional additions: shrimp, pork, chicken, beef, tofu or tempeh
Prepare the sauce by combining the tomato sauce, soy sauce, peanut butter, cumin, garlic and ginger together in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk the ingredients together until the peanut butter is completely incorporated. Set aside.
Put the broccoli florets in a wok with 2-3 tablespoons of water, cover and cook over high heat for just 2-3 minutes or until the broccoli turns bright green. Remove the broccoli, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process, and set aside. Rinse and dry wok or skillet.
Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, or a liberal amount of canola cooking spray, in the same skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add the sliced onions and carrots and cook until they begin to soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add the peppers and snap peas and cook for another 2-3 minutes. You want the vegetables to be crisp and bright and just cooked through. Add the broccoli and stir fry for another minute. Remove all the vegetables from the pan into a bowl and set aside.
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon sesame oil to the wok and stir fry the shrimp over high heat until pink and slightly browned at the edges. They do not need to be fully cooked.
Add the vegetables back to the wok, add the sauce and stir to coat the veggies and shrimp completely. reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Serve over brown rice, soba noodles or rice noodles. Serves 2 with leftovers.