In my house, if I put peanut sauce on just about anything, my family will eat it. One of our daughters was staying with us for a while, and recently moved to her own place in town. Her parting words were, Let me know when you make that peanut sauce. I'll be over for dinner!
I struggled with peanut sauce for years, partially because I was under the impression that the sauce I had on Phad Thai in restaurants was peanut sauce, when in fact it's something quite different. Once I stopped trying to make the poor peanut sauce something it wasn't, it became its own wonderful self. There might be a life lesson in there somewhere.
So let's start with the sauce for this dish. It's easy to put together, and can be kept warm while you wrangle the vegetables. My basic peanut sauce ingredients are as follows, and the measurements are really approximate. Adjust everything to taste.
1 cup peanut butter
1 can coconut milk, or veggie broth, or equivalent water
juice of 1 lime
2 tsp miso paste
1 tsp Cholula and/or 1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp maple syrup
1-2 T freshly grated ginger root
Gently warm everything together in a saucepan, adjust seasonings, keep warm on low heat, stirring now and then, and adding water if it gets too thick.
I like to make noodles out of raw zucchini. You can use a Spiralizer tool, which is a lot of fun, or a mandoline or vegetable peeler to slice the zucchini into a noodly form. I use these noodles for just about all my noodle dishes now, and everyone who has tried them has loved them. For some reason they don't have that "squish" that puts so many people off zucchini. Part of it's the shape, I think, and also the fact that they're only gently steamed here. I also got these beautiful purple-ish carrots at the farmers market. They look especially pretty with the zucchini, but lots of other vegetables would be good in this dish too. Use what you have. Use what you like. This is a good fridge-cleaning dish.
I'm not a fan of those dinky, flimsy, folding steamer baskets that always collapse on me when I try to take them out of the pan. I use a wire colander over a pot of water.
I like to place the harder vegetable in the bottom of the basket, in this case, the carrots, so they get the most direct hit of steam.
Bring the water to a boil first, then place the steamer basket in the pot, cover with the lid, and steam for only 2-3 minutes. The idea is to heat and soften the vegetables, not to turn them to mush. These will be crisp, so if you prefer super-cooked veggies, leave them in the steam longer... but please don't.
Once the vegetables are steamed, arrange them on plates with a little pool of peanut sauce on the bottom, and more (lots more) spooned over the top. You might garnish with some tamari-toasted sunflower seeds, chopped peanuts or cashews, or even a little sprinkle of unsweetened coconut. Make a lot. It's great for lunch the next day too.