thai ginger peanut dressing

this bright thai flavored dressing is one of my all time favorites. its scrumptious over soba noodles, salads, raw vegetables or accompanying a fresh spring roll... there are so many possibilities. i've make it thick like a sauce for grilled meats and vegetables or on a stir fry like this one. but i also love throwing together the same flavors with a bit extra coconut milk, making it a bit more dressing-like. since this recipe makes enough for several meals, i used it for a couple different dishes. my favorite of which involved fresh strawberries. enjoy! 

for the sauce:
3/4 cup natural ground peanuts
3/4 cup coconut milk (or light coconut milk)
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
4 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grate fresh ginger
1/2 lime
chili flakes to taste
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce (optional) 

in a blender or food processor, mix equal parts natural peanut butter with coconut milk (for 5-6 people, i did 3/4 cup each). blend in 2 cloves of raw garlic, a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, a few tablespoons of soy sauce, and the juice of one lime. add heat with chili flakes if you like your noodles spicy.

for fresh spring rolls: 
rice paper wraps - 2 to 3 per person
extra hot tap water in a large pan, or boiled water that has cooled enough to touch

avocado slices
fresh basil or thai basil
radish, thinly sliced into half moons
roasted peanuts, chopped
green onions
* this particular combo of fillers is exceptional but you could also do any fresh vegetables instead of strawberries

soak each rice paper sheet in hot water. try to keep them flat in the water. remove from water once they have become pliable and set onto a clean towel as your work surface. pile ingredients in center and roll them up like mini burritos. try to pack them tight especially if you want to be able to cut them in half to share. serve with a side a peanut dressing for dipping! 

for a thai noodle salad:
buckwheat soba noodles
2-3 carrots
a variety of colorful peppers and chilies
hard boiled eggs (optional)
black or white sesame seeds
fresh herbs, such as basil, thai basil or cilantro
chili flakes
cabbage, butter lettuce or sprouts

boil a large handful of buckwheat soba noodles for about 6 minutes. drain and cool completely with cold water, mixing with your hand. if you let your noodles sit out for a while while you prep everything else, you can run some more water over them to shake them loose later. once they have cooled, thinly slice or grate 2 large carrots into a large bowl with the noodles. thoroughly mix in the peanut sauce - easiest to do with clean hands! to assemble, pile noodles over greens or sprouts, and top with thinly sliced peppers, sliced boiled egg, black sesame seeds and chili flakes. you can either eat these like a salad, or fold it all into a cabbage leaf and eat it like a wrap!

a personal note: i will be out of the country from july 2-15 for a vacation to italy. i can't wait to come home and share my foodie adventures with all of you as soon as i return. for now, enjoy this extra long post until my return! italy!!!!