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Spicy Peanut Dressing (and sauce)

Other than peanut butter, peanuts themselves haven't really had a home in my kitchen. Not because I didn't like them, but I guess because, in my mind anyway, they were the more boring of all the nuts. With almonds and pecans and walnuts to choose from, the humble peanut looked a little dull.

But that all changed recently. My neighbour Alison celebrated a special birthday at The London Chef cooking school here in Victoria, and I joined her and many of her friends and family in a Thai cooking class. Chef Dan Hayes made the most incredible peanut dressing that, to me, was the best flavour of the night. It was tossed in a salad of thinly sliced cabbage and cucumber. I do love a cabbage salad, me, and this one had mega flavour and satisfying crunch.

While Dan's dressing had all the authentic ingredients, I set out to make my own version at home using everyday ingredients that most of us have in our kitchen. Enjoy it in a shaved vegetable salad, or try it hot tossed with crispy chicken, vegetables and rice noodles. Make some spicy peanut dressing at the start of the week and enjoy it for days.

Time to put peanuts on my regular shopping list!

Get the recipe below.

Spicy Peanut Dressing
Makes 2 1/3 cups (allow approx. 1/3 cup per serving)

2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp (50 mL) fresh ginger root (or 3 rounds sliced 1/4-inch thick)
2 green onions, roots removed
1 bird's eye chili, seeds removed
2 cups (500 mL) fresh cilantro or parsley, packed
1 cup (250 mL) blanched unsalted peanuts
juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup (125 mL) coconut milk
1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil or other lightly-flavoured oil
3 tbsp (50 mL) soy sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) sesame oil
1 tbsp (15 mL) granulated or raw cane sugar (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process on HIGH until well blended. Use immediately or pour into a sealed container and refrigerate up to 5 days.

NOTE: If making coleslaw, toss the dressing with the veggies and allow to sit at room temperature for half an hour before serving to soften the veggies.

Do you use peanuts in your cooking? What's your favourite way to enjoy them? Leave a comment and share your ideas!