Earlier this summer, my husband Ted and I, and our friends Mary and Matt, snagged lawn tickets to hear James Taylor in concert at Tanglewood, in the beautiful Berkshire hills of western Massachusetts. Picnics, complete with candles and wine, are de rigeur at Tanglewood, and our annual tradition involves shopping at Guido's Fresh Marketplace in Pittsfield for salads, cheese, and fruit for our picnic basket. On a hunch, we bought a double portion of cold sesame noodles, and I'm glad we did; we ate every bit. When a dish grabs hold of your taste memory and won't let go, you must beg, borrow or steal the recipe and make that dish your own.
Cold sesame noodles
Adapted from this recipe on Epicurious.com, and inspired by cold sesame noodles we bought at Guido's Fresh Marketplace in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Serves 6.
3 Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp chili paste with garlic
2 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Tbsp sesame oil, divided
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
1 lb linguine or lo mein noodles
2 tsp sesame seeds, black or white or a mix
1/2 cup thinly sliced seedless (English) cucumber
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
A few teaspoons of chopped scallion, for garnish (optional)
In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste, brown sugar, peanut butter, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, and ginger. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring frequently with a whisk until the sauce is smooth, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a stock pot. Add the linguine, and cook until al dente, approximately 7 minutes (taste to be sure). Remove half a cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside. Drain the noodles, rinse under cold water, and drain again.
Put the pasta in a mixing bowl with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Toss well to coat the pasta. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
While the pasta is cooling, add the sesame seeds to a dry, nonstick frying pan. Toast over low heat, shaking the pan frequently, until the seeds just begin to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
When the pasta is cold, remove it from the refrigerator. Stir in the sliced cucumber and red pepper, and the sesame seeds. If needed to thin the sauce (which will thicken as it cools), whisk in the reserved pasta cooking water, one spoonful at a time, and add the sauce to the noodles. Toss well to combine.
Garnish with scallions (optional), and serve chilled.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Sesame choy sum, from Adventures in Bentomaking
Sesame-ginger fusion cabbage, from Grow. Cook. Eat.
Honey mustard chicken salad with sesame-soy dressing, from Foodilicious Malaysia
Korean barbecued beef, from Apple A Day
Kung pao shrimp, from In Good Taste
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