Spicy noodles are my comfort food — I like to cook a bowl for myself whether it’s meal time or not. And they’re never really the same thing twice; I’m constantly tinkering with the ingredients. This particular adaptation uses a little ground beef plus the meaty Romano beans that I grew from my friend Caroline’s seeds. The only thing I don’t tinker with is the fresh tomatoes that get stirred in at the end. I know stir-fried tomatoes sound odd, but they really tie the sweet, salty, sour, and spicy flavors together. These days I’m chopping in the last stragglers from our garden and bonus, you don’t really notice that the fruit is barely ripe. Good timing for the very last of the summer crops. And, I get my noodle craving satisfied in fifteen minutes.

Recipe: Spicy Noodles

1/3 lb rice stick noodles / ¼ lb green beans / 2 medium tomatoes / 2 tbls fish sauce / 2 tsp sugar / 2 tbls fresh lime juice / 1 tsp chili paste, or to taste / ¼ tsp salt / ¼ lb ground beef / 2 tbls minced onion / 1 tsp ginger, minced

Soak rice noodles in hot water for 10 minutes or more, to soften. Cut green beans into 1-inch pieces and tomatoes into ½-inch cubes. Thoroughly mix together fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, chili paste, and salt. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high. Swirl in vegetable oil. When hot, add ground beef, onion, and ginger and cook, stirring, until beef has lost its raw appearance. Add noodles, fish sauce mixture, ½ cup water, and green beans. Cook, stirring constantly, adding additional water to keep noodles from sticking if needed. When noodles are tender, about 5 minutes, mix in tomatoes and serve. Feeds 2.