Ask anyone in my family, and I might be the most stubborn person they know. Watching a TV show I didn’t get to pick? It wouldn’t happen in the house I grew up in. Making sure that play time involved arts and crafts all day, every day? You bet. Not getting to open the biggest Hanukkah present on the first night? Oh, there’d be a tantrum for sure. And needless to say, I always had the last word, and it was always the right one. Obvi.

Of course, this might all be part of my territory of being the oldest in the family and the only girl. Can you say princess?

You might think that given my stubborn tendencies, I’d be one to form an opinion and stick with it. And actually, that’s not always the case. I’m very open to hearing others’ thoughts and have been known to sway. Even when it comes to food. Take beets, or olives. I had to try them both about 10 times before I finally liked them. No, make that loved them. Now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I tried kelp noodles a few months ago for the first time and I was less-than-impressed. Actually, it was one of the least blog-worthy dinner I’d ever made. Ick. Kelp noodles may be low-calorie (practically calorie-free, in fact), all natural, and gluten-free, but seriously, the taste of that dish had me wondering what all the fuss was about.

I knew I’d give them another shot, eventually, but for the time being they went on the back burner. I sort of forgot about them until Elana posted a recipe for kelp noodles in a creamy sesame-almond butter sauce. I swear, you could drown anything in nut butter and I’d be all over it. Elana also noted a step I missed the first time around: soaking the noodles prior to using them in a recipe.

You see, if you go about eating kelp noodles expecting them to be some miracle low-carb substitute for regular pasta, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. Not that I did that the first time around; rather, I tried to appreciate them for what they were. But since I found them crunchy, plastic-y, and tasting somewhat of the sea (remember, they are made from seaweed), I found that a little difficult. Soaking the noodles softens the texture a bit, and gets rid of the briny undertone. They still retain some crunch, though, so just remember that when you go to use them. I probably wouldn’t pile them with marinara sauce and turkey meatballs, but toss them with some light seafood and fresh, crisp vegetables, and you’ll have an easy, no-fuss dish you want to enjoy all summer long.

Need more convincing? A serving of kelp noodles naturally contains 15% of the daily recommended intake of calcium. Can your regular pasta give you that? Didn’t think so! Actually, make that 30%. Because a bag of kelp noodles contains 4 servings at a mere 6 calories each, I have no problem whatsoever splitting the whole thing with my husband, so we are actually getting twice the calcium.

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Peanut Sesame Kelp Noodles with Shrimp and Vegetables

Yield: 2 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 35 mintues

Calcium-rich, gluten-free kelp noodles tossed with a simple peanut-sesame sauce, steamed shrimp and fresh crisp vegetables. Delicious warm or chilled.

Ingredients:

1 package kelp noodles
¼ cup natural creamy peanut butter (try substituting almond butter or sunflower seed butter if you need to avoid peanuts)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons water, or more as desired
8-12 oz peeled, deveined shrimp
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/2 of a medium red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch of asparagus, tough ends removed and

Directions:

Drain and rinse the kelp noodles and place in a large bowl. Add enough hot water to cover (hot water from the tap is fine, it doesn't need to be boiling) and set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine peanut butter, sesame oil, ume plum vinegar, honey and water in a small blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add more water to thin out, if desired.

Place a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water. Add vegetables, cover, and steam for 3-4 minutes, until crisp-tender. Transfer to a bowl.
Add shrimp, cover, and steam for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl with the vegetables.

Drain the kelp noodles and place in a clean, dry bowl. Pour the peanut butter sesame sauce over the noodles and toss to coat. Add the vegetables and steamed shrimp, and toss again. Serve immediately, or chill and enjoy later.

Cara Lyons, www.carascravings.com, adapted from Elana's Pantry.