Peanut Sesame Cold Noodles

This post is about a month late.  If I was more organized, I would have shared the recipe with you while it was still warm so you could make it for your cookout.  Sorry for the bad timing!  This is a very simple noodle salad that everyone seems to enjoy.  I brought it to a summer picnic and my friends commented on how delicious it was.  Have you ever ordered those cold noodles from Chinese takeout?  This dish tastes very similar, but even better!

I absolutely love the fragrant flavor of dark sesame oil (not to be confused with the light sesame oil), and I think it works well here with the peanut butter.  To turn it into a healthy dish, you can use whole wheat pasta and toss in whatever fresh crunchy vegetables you have on hand.


Peanut Sesame Noodles
(serves 6)

1 lb spaghetti
1 large broccoli, cut into florets
1 red bell pepper, julienned
½ cup smooth, unsalted peanut butter
¼ cup light soy sauce
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp dark sesame oil
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and run under cold water to cool.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the broccoli florets, return to a boil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until crisp tender.  Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, and honey.  In a large bowl, toss to combine the broccoli florets, red pepper, pasta, and dressing.  Garnish with sesame seeds.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

*The quantities of ingredients are totally flexible depending on your preference (I used unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter, but if yours is already sweetened and salted, you should adjust the amount of soy sauce and honey accordingly).

*Light sesame oil is something you can cook with (like sunflower seed oil), but dark sesame oil  is a finishing oil.  It is very potent, so a little goes a long way!

*I originally made this with egg noodles (available in precooked packages, which can be found in the refrigerated section of Chinese grocery stores), but I think spaghetti works better if you want to let the noodles sit in the refrigerator for a bit.  With egg noodles, once you mix in the dressing, the noodles will get soggy after a while.  In that case, you should add the dressing only right before serving.

*Add some cooked chicken breast for a more substantial meal.

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