Friday, August 7, 2015

Cold Sesame Noodles with Cucumber

Last Year's Post: Goat Cheese and Chorizo Rolls
Two Years Ago:  Healthy Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs

"Cold" - what a lovely word.  It's been hot lately all over the country, but I think Phoenix must take the prize - it was 111 degrees here yesterday.  It's hot enough that The Lawyer has temporarily lost his enthusiasm for grilling, which is saying something.

When it's this hot, salads sound great.  I find cold noodle salads to be especially appealing because they're light and refreshing.  This one is perfect with its light dressing, cool cucumbers and fresh herbs, and the only cooking you'll need to do is zap some water in the microwave to soften the rice noodles.  After that it's simply a matter of slicing, chopping, and mixing - the whole prep takes maybe 20 minutes tops.  Yes please!

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Cold Sesame Noodles with Cucumber
Serves 4, generously

3/4 pound dried rice noodles
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, plus a splash to loosen noodles
2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste or tahini
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
3 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated or brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic (from 1 medium-large clove)
2 teaspoons chili-garlic past
1/2 pound cucumber, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced (optional)
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
A handful of chopped fresh herbs, such as mint and cilantro, for garnish
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

Cook noodles according to package directions and rinse with cold water to cool. Drain well. Drizzle with a tiny splash of toasted sesame oil to keep them from sticking until dressed.

Meanwhile, whisk sesame paste and peanut butter in the bottom of a small bowl, then whisk in soy sauce, rice vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, sugar, ginger, garlic and chile-garlic paste to taste until smooth. Adjust flavors to taste. Toss sauce with cold noodles.

Place a medium-sized amount of noodles in each bowl, followed by a pile of cucumber. Garnish with peanuts, optional jalapeno slices, sesame seeds and herbs. Serve with extra chile-garlic paste on the side.

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