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Easy dinner recipes: Three simple ideas for peanut butter lovers

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Peanut butter isn't just for sandwiches. If you're a fan, consider adding it to salad dressing, marinades and more.

Peanut coleslaw: Peanut butter forms the base of this tangy-sweet dressing, which combines vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, lime juice and garlic. Toss with a colorful blend of cabbage, red bell pepper, chiles, onion and jalapeño for a crisp, colorful side or light main that comes together in minutes. 

Sesame-crusted salmon: Peanut butter and sesame make a great flavoring pair, and they work well to lend richness to the salad dressing with this quick salmon dish. Start to finish, dinner is ready in only 40 minutes.

QUICK & EASY: 99 terrific recipes in about an hour or less

Peanut butter cookies: The Buttery's take on peanut butter cookies, massive enough that you almost need two hands to hold them, is at once rich, sweet and perfectly crumbly. Each cookie is garnished with a coating of dry-roasted peanuts around the edge. It's like a little bit of peanut butter heaven with every bite.

And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at noelle.carter@latimes.com.

RECIPES: 99 easy dinner ideas in about an hour or less

PEANUT COLESLAW

Total time: 40 minutes | Serves 6 to 8

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
3 cups nappa cabbage, sliced thin
3 cups red cabbage, sliced thin
3 cups bok choy, sliced thin
2 cups red bell pepper, julienned
1 cup (about 2 large) chopped poblano chiles
1 cup chopped red onion
4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped fine
1 cup peanuts (optional)

1. Place the vinegar, peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, lime juice and garlic in a mixing bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth.

2. In a large bowl, combine the sliced cabbages, bok choy, bell pepper, chiles, onion, jalapeños and peanuts. Pour the dressing over. Toss and serve.

Each of 8 servings: 149 calories; 5 grams protein; 19 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fiber; 7 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 205 mg. sodium.

SESAME-CRUSTED SALMON

Total time: 40 minutes | Serves 4

DRESSING

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1½ teaspoons peanut butter (optional)
1½ teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable oil

In a blender, mix the vinegar, mustard, shallots, ginger, peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Gradually add the vegetable oil until smooth and emulsified. Taste for seasoning. If it has too strong a taste of vinegar, add salt to balance.

SALMON AND SALAD

1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3/4 cup sesame seeds
4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons oil
1/2 pound baby salad greens
1 papaya, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

1. Measure the soy sauce and sesame oil into a shallow glass dish and pour the sesame seeds into another shallow dish. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Dip each piece of salmon into the soy-sesame oil mixture, then roll it in the sesame seeds to coat.

2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the salmon and cook until the fish has a nice brown crust on the bottom, about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the salmon over and place the skillet in the oven until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

3. While the salmon is in the oven, toss the salad greens with the dressing, then mound the greens on a serving platter or individual dinner plates. Sprinkle with papaya and blue cheese. Remove the salmon from the oven and place on the greens.

Each serving: 837 calories; 49 grams protein; 17 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 65 grams fat; 11 grams saturated fat; 93 mg. cholesterol; 1,812 mg. sodium.

THE BUTTERY’S PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES

Total time: 1 hour, plus chilling time for the dough | Makes 8 to 10 large cookies
Note: Adapted from the Buttery in Santa Cruz. Baker's sugar, a super-fine granulated sugar, can be found at most grocery stores, as well as at cooking and baking supply stores.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon baker's sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter, at room temperature
1½ cups (6.4 ounces) pastry flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dry-roasted peanuts

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream the butter over medium speed just until creamy. Add the sugars to the butter and cream together, careful not to over-mix. Scrape down the bowl to make sure the sugars and butter are evenly combined.

2. Beat in the egg just until incorporated, then beat in the peanut butter, scraping down the bowl again after mixing.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

4. Add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl, beating until smooth and the flour is evenly incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, making sure the ingredients are combined and smooth.

5. Remove the dough from the bowl and form it into a rough log, approximately 2½ inches thick. Place the dough in a sheet of parchment paper and roll the dough in the paper so it is smooth and a consistent 2½-inches thick throughout the log. The log will be about 9 inches long.

6. Place the peanuts in a rimmed cookie sheet and gently roll the dough in the peanuts to coat on all sides. The peanuts should stick to the log; if they don't, brush the roll with a beaten egg, then roll it in the peanuts so they stick. Wrap the finished log in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until well-chilled, at least 2 hours, up to overnight.

7. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the cookies into 1-inch-thick slices and place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them at least 3 inches apart, as the cookies will spread while they bake. Bake the cookies until set and browned around the edges, about 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking for even coloring. Cool the cookies, still on the baking sheet, on a rack until set and cool enough to handle.

Each of 10 cookies: 406 calories; 9 grams protein; 45 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 24 grams fat; 8 grams saturated fat; 43 mg cholesterol; 380 mg sodium; 26 grams sugar.

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