Melting pot menus: sesame noodles

As I veer off the baking path, I thought I’d share some recipes that are great weeknight meals. Inspired by the cuisines of other countries, these are certainly not authentic, but I think in their own way they are truly American. Where better to celebrate the melting pot of our nation than at the dinner table?

Today’s Asian-inspired noodle dish can be a side dish or a meal in itself. I usually supplement it with steamed and salted edamame (the kids won’t eat peas, but they’ll eat a great bowlful of edamame!), and maybe some potstickers or other dumplings from the frozen food aisle (Trader Joe’s has some decent ones, as does our local Asian market). Once we even served these noodles in little cardboard takeout containers for a party! They are best served at room temperature, so they’re perfect for a buffet or a lunchbox (and for kids who don’t like their food too hot or too cold). And once you stock your pantry with the basic ingredients, you can add this recipe to your repertoire of quick pantry meals that you rely on when you don’t have a meal plan (or your plan falls apart, as often happens around here!). Adjust the proportions to your taste…spice it up with more chili oil, add more soy sauce or vinegar, or substitute soy nut butter if you have peanut allergies to contend with.

Sesame Noodles
adapted from New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant

1 lb. soba (buckwheat) noodles
1/2 cup peanut butter (add 1 T. brown sugar if using natural peanut butter)
1/2 cup tahini
1/4 cup hot water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. chili oil
3 T. toasted sesame seeds
3 scallions, sliced

Optional: 1 cucumber, seeded and diced; 1 cup fresh bean sprouts; 1/2 cup shredded carrots

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the noodles according to package directions (usually 5-6 minutes). Set aside 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water.  Drain and rinse the noodles.

In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, tahini and hot water until smooth. Whisk in soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and chili oil. Add some of the reserved pasta water, a few tablespoons at a time, to thin the dressing. Add the cooked noodles to the bowl and toss gently until coated. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and scallions. Serve with cucumber, bean sprouts and carrots (I like to keep them separate, both for the picky eaters and because leftovers store better separately).

Coming soon: Quick Posole (Pork and hominy stew)


9 responses

  1. We usually buy them at a nearby market that has lots of international foods, a good deli and cheap produce (Brookhaven). I think Trader Joe's might have them, too. Pretty sure I've seen them in the Asian aisle at Jewel, too. You can use this dressing on whole wheat spaghetti, or udon, or even regular spaghetti if you're out of soba.

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