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Real Food Fast: Sesame Noodles

I’ve always been a fan of sweet, tangy cold sesame noodles. I used to get them from the deli, taking them for lunch when I needed something to go, or to bring on a picnic as a mayo-free alternative to potato salad. Now my son adores them – they’re an easy sell when we order spicy Chinese takeout – but it occurred to me that they’d be simple to make from scratch, and easily customizable with fresh veggies, roast chicken, pork or shrimp. Sesame noodles make a great side, but can also stretch into a one-dish meal if you have leftover meat or tofu that needs using up.

If you just want straight-up sesame noodles, leave out the veggies and meat.

Sesame Noodles with Veggies

1 Tbsp. canola oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice or balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. honey or sugar
a tiny squirt of chili sauce
1 lb. fresh Chinese noodles, rice noodles or spaghetti
2 cups chopped fresh veggies, such as carrots, pea pods, peppers, asparagus, broccoli, cucumber, shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded roast chicken or pork, cooked shrimp or cubed tofu (optional)
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (optional)

In a small skillet (or a large one, if you want to sauté your noodles after you boil them) heat the canola oil and sauté the garlic and ginger for a few minutes, until soft but not brown. Transfer to a bowl and add the sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, honey and chili sauce.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the package directions, or until tender. Drain them in a colander and run them under cold water to stop them from cooking and cool them down. (Alternatively, drain them and then toss them into a hot skillet with a bit of sesame and/or canola oil, and toss for a few minutes, until the noodles start to brown; set aside to cool before tossing with the dressing.)

Add to the bowl of dressing along with the veggies, meat (if using), green onions and sesame seeds and toss well to coat. Let sit for an hour, or refrigerate overnight. Serve topped with chopped peanuts, if you like. (this is best served at room temperature.)

Serves 4-6.

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