Tonight we are having dinner with friends and I’m taking sesame noodles with grilled asparagus. I love pot luck meals – our friends are great cooks with varied styles so dinner will be wonderful and we will have shared the work and the fun.
This salad is one of my favorites because it is easy to put together and travels well. Here’s how I make it:
Sesame Noodles with Grilled Asparagus
I use 100% semolina Italian linguini that is cooked in lots of well salted boiling water until al dente. I reserve a cup of the salty starchy pasta water, and after draining the pasta I toss it with a tablespoon of oil and set it aside while I grill the asparagus and make the sauce.
I cut off the bottom inch of the asparagus, and use a vegetable peeler to peel the bottom third of each stalk, brushed with olive oil, it takes about five minutes on a hot grill for them to cook.
The sauce is put together in the work bowl of a small food processor. With the motor running I put two cloves of garlic through the tube, then add one tablespoon red wine vinegar, and one tablespoon brown sugar. When this is blended, I turn off the machine and add a half cup of chunky peanut butter and then process the mixture for a minute before adding a quarter of a cup of soy sauce, six tablespoons of toasted sesame oil, and three tablespoons of chili oil and processing until well blended.
In a large shallow serving bowl. I combined the sauce, noodles and four tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds. If the sauce is too thick use some of the reserved pasta water to thin it. The dressed noodles are then topped with one diced red pepper, half a cup of fresh cilantro, and one sliced cucumber.
With the grilled asparagus artfully arranged on top and sprinkled with an additional tablespoon each of toasted sesame seeds and black sesame seed we’re ready to go.
Any dried pasta will work, fresh pasta is too delicate and will not stand up to this sauce. Shredded chicken or grilled shrimp can be added to make a more substantial salad. I cooked the asparagus on a cast iron grill pan but you can cook them on a charcoal grill, roast or broil them in the the oven or steam them. The asparagus can be omitted or replaced with blanched green beans. Scallions, sliced on the diagonal and soaked in iced salt water for half an hour can be sprinkled on top. This salad is best eaten at room temperature and within a few hours of combining the noodles with the sauce. If you need to make this salad further in advance, prepare the pasta, sauce and asparagus and combine just before serving.
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Sesame Noodles with Grilled Asparagus List
- 1 pound 100% semolina linguini
- kosher salt
- 1 T oil
- 1 pound asparagus
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 T red wine vinegar
- 1 T brown sugar
- 1/2 c chunky peanut butter
- 1/4 c soy sauce
- 6 T toasted sesame oil
- 3 T chili oil
- 4 T toasted sesame seeds
- 1 red pepper
- 1/2 c cilantro
- 1 cucumber