Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cold Sesame Noodles

The elusive perfect pasta salad. It's become so rare for me to enjoy pasta salad, I started avoiding them at potlucks. There are either full of mayo, or the vegetables are overcooked and under flavored. There was one cold asian style noodle salad Trader Joes sells in its fresh section that drove me wild. Im talking had dreams about this salad. Living in Asheville is a gift, except of our lack of Traders Joes. Oh Traders, how I miss you. This one was not like the Traders one, it was tasty, but still not exactly what I wanted. You elude me again perfect pasta salad!

Don't get me wrong, this was great, but when you are seeking a particular flavor, nothing else will do.

Next time I will add more vegetables and less pasta. Of course I "forgot" the red pepper, aka I still dont vibe with red peppers and dont add them to things. Walking into a kitchen when peppers are cooking makes my mouth water, I want to eat them, but then I do and regret it. Someday red/green peppers...someday.
 I think next time Ill use a different type of noodle. Chunky peanut butter was recommended but I had creamy so thats what I used. Always follow ingredients, but be careful when buying food that could go to waste. If you don't eat crunchy butter, don't buy it. 
I made them Sunday night, tasted them and had them again for Monday lunch. Sadly they were tastier Sunday night, but by no means gross on Monday. I ate them again today, and they were still tasty. I made enough for the week, so Ill see how long it holds. This would be a fantastic dish for a potluck, especially in the summer, because it whips up quick and the ingredients are cheap.

Sesame Seeds are healthy too, full of copper, magnesium, and calcium. Also the phrase "open sesame" comes from sesame seeds. When sesame seed pod reaches maturity they burst open, hence open sesame. I tell ya, the things you learn online. I knew there must be a reason they are on so many asian dishes. You can read all about them here: Sesame Seeds

I found this recipe in America's Best Test Kitchen: Family Cookbook, a cookbook I think every person should have. It has every basic recipe you would need, plus information on everything from the best olive oil, to how cook every bean, to a list of every type of cheese and what it goes well with. I've been missing sleep just to read this wonderful book, I would say its a "must have".
Do not let the ingredient list scare you, a lot of components are things you probably have around the house. Specifically the kitchen, hopefully you dont keep peanut butter in your bathroom, though to each his/her own.
Noodle note: Chinese eggs noodles may not be in your pantry, they sadly arent in mine, so use what you have on hand. I only buy whole wheat noodles these days, its good habit to get into. I used angel hair, but think rotini, spaghetti, or farfelle would all be great.
Cold Sesame Noodles
Crap picture, I promise the taste is better
The Goods: Serves 4-6
5 tablespoons sesame seeds
5 tablespoons soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Amino Acids
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound fresh chinese noodles(see note)
4 scallions, sliced thin
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and sliced thin

The Deal: 
1. Toast the sesame seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the sesame seeds. Puree the remaining 4 tablespoons sesame seeds with soy sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, sugar, ginger, garlic, and Tabasco in a food processor (or blender) until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, add hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream. You may not need all the water, the texture is key. 
Creamy and healthy. Yes!
2. Cook the noodles as directed until tender. Drain and rinse the noodles under cold water until cool. Shake out excess water and transfer to a large bowl. Add the scallions, carrots, red pepper, and sesame sauce and toss to combine. Serve on a platter, or divide into bowls and sprinkle with reserved sesame seeds. 

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