When my family and I go on vacation, we either camp with our Coleman stove or stay in cabins or guest houses with kitchens so that we can prepare our meals and not have to worry about finding vegan food in remote places. But cooking can be tricky when we’re not in our own kitchen.
When we’re camping it’s obvious: We plan each meal exactly and bring every pot, utensil, and ingredient we’ll need to make each meal. But staying at a cabin that promises a “fully outfitted kitchen” is always a gamble. Sometimes we’ve found little more than 4 plates and two pots, a tiny one and a huge one. Even the best outfitted rental kitchens are missing something, which is why I always try to come up with the simplest meals to cook on vacation, meals without too many ingredients to carry with us and that don’t use any special equipment.
Our standard easy meal while traveling is spaghetti with store-bought sauce. The three of us can eat 8 ounces of pasta and one jar of spaghetti sauce at one meal (along with steamed vegetables). This time, I decided to build off of that meal and save time and ingredients by cooking a full pound of spaghetti and saving half of it for a second night’s meal.
Since we always travel with a jar of peanut butter, it made sense to make a peanut sauce for the second pasta meal, using the soy sauce and cider vinegar I found in the pantry of the guest house. I kept the spicing simple, using only the basics that we’d brought with us or picked up at a grocery store along the way. Though simple, this turned out to be delicious!
We ate this in a garden filled with irises, dianthus, columbine, poppies, and other flowers I couldn’t recognize, gazing off into mountains painted red by the sunset. Nothing ever tasted so good!
Pasta and Vegetables with Peanut Sauce
Sesame oil gives the peanut sauce a delicious flavor, but if you are avoiding all oils, feel free to leave it out.
- 8 ounces pasta , cooked
- 1/2 bunch broccoli , cut into florets and stems peeled and sliced
- 14 baby carrots , halved lengthwise
- 2 zucchini , halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons dark sesame oil (optional or to taste)
- 2-3 cloves garlic , chopped
- 1 teaspoon ginger root , minced
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter (I used chunky because that’s what we had)
- 1/2-3/4 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup soy sauce (replace with more water if you’re salt-free)
- 2 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2-4 green onions , sliced
Prepare the pasta and keep it warm. If you’re using pre-cooked pasta, bring it to room temperature.
Begin steaming the broccoli and carrots. After a few minutes, or when the broccoli begins to turn bright green, add the zucchini and steam until all vegetables are tender but still crisp. The time will vary depending on the method of steaming you use, so just watch them carefully and don’t let them over-cook.
While the vegetables are steaming, heat the sesame oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the peanut butter, and cook, stirring, until it is heated through. Slowly stir in the hot water and add soy sauce, vinegar, and cayenne. Stir until it is a smooth mixture, adding more water if it is too thick. Then add the cooked pasta and toss to coat.
Once the vegetables are steamed, add them to the pasta and sauce. Mix well and serve sprinkled with chopped green onions.
If you replace part or all of the soy sauce with water, the sodium will be significantly lower.
Here’s another version with zucchini, mushrooms, bok choy, and edamame. Use any vegetables you like!