Summer Sesame Noodles

May 29, 2012

These savory, nutty noodles are delicious at any temperature, with a slick of sesame oil that keeps them nice and slurpy. I went with bright, juicy cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumbers and a handful of fresh herbs, but you can toss in whatever additions sound good. Fish sauce adds a nice savory note but may be omitted. If you'd like more protein, toss in some cubes of baked tofu.

Makes 6 servings

12 ounces noodles (you can use an Asian noodle, such as udon or bean threads, or regular or whole wheat linguini)

3 tablespoons sesame oil, plus more for noodles

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)

1 tablespoon chili paste or chili oil

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar or lime juice

1/4 cup water

1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and sliced into half moons

4 scallions, both white and green parts, thinly sliced

1 large handful basil leaves, chopped

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

3/4 cup sun gold or other cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Cook the noodles according to the package directions, then drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Place in a large bowl, toss with a splash of sesame oil to keep from sticking, and set aside.

Add the remaining sesame oil to the skillet, and when it's hot but not smoking, add the garlic and ginger. Saute, stirring, until they soften and begin to brown. Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, fish sauce (if using), chili paste, sugar, vinegar or lime juice and water. Stir or whisk for a minute until the peanut butter melts into the sauce and it is somewhat thickened and shiny. Taste to adjust seasonings so that it's as spicy/salty/sour/nutty as you like (keep in mind that this will be diluted over noodles, so you want a well-seasoned sauce). Pour over the noodles, and toss well to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly (just enough so that it won't cook the remaining ingredients), and add the cucumber, scallions, basil, cilantro and cherry tomatoes. Toss gently to combine, and enjoy warm, cold or room temperature.

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