2tablespoonskosher saltfor boiling the water, don't add this to your sauce!
1 pounddry spaghetti noodlesor any kind of pasta
1cupasparagus chopped (optional)
2tablespoonssesame oilfor coating the cooked noodles
For the sesame sauce
3 tablespoonsrice vinegar
1/4cuppeanut butterchunky or smooth (NOT natural)
3tablespoonstoasted sesame seedscheck the Asian section for pre-toasted seeds
1knobgingerabout 2 inches, roughly chopped
3clovesgarlicsmashed and peeled
1teaspoonSriracha hot sauceor more to taste
1-2tablespoonswaterto thin the sauce
Raw vegetables, add as many or as few as you like
1English cucumberhalved and seeds removed
1red bell pepperchopped into bite size pieces
1cupshredded carrotsI used pre-shredded, or you can shred about 3 small carrots
more veggiesif you want, see note for ideas
chopped cilantroto garnish
chopped green onionto garnish
sesame seedsto garnish
additional sesame oilto garnish
Cook the noodles. Set a large pot of water over high heat. I used a 3 quart pot (which is annoyingly small for long noodles, actually, but it gets the job done if you shove them in and stir a lot.) Season the water with 2 tablespoons kosher salt; it should taste like the ocean.
When the water boils, add 1 pound spaghetti noodles, or any kind of noodle. Stir occasionally so they don't stick. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prep your asparagus if you're using it. (Every vegetable in this recipe is optional and interchangeable.) Snap off the wood ends. Chop into bite size pieces. You need about 1 cup chopped asparagus.
After 5 minutes, add the chopped asparagus to the pot with the noodles and continue to boil for about 2 minutes.
When the noodles are al dente, (about 7-8 minute total boil time, seriously watch it, don't let them get all soft! It's okay if you feel like your asparagus is still too crisp. It's not.) Remove the pot from the heat and strain through a colander set in the sink. Rinse the pasta and asparagus with cold water for a minute or so. Toss the noodles around with your hands to 1)cool everything off, 2)stop the cooking process, and 3)remove starch (which keeps our sauce smoother). Keep going until your noodles are cold.
Shake the colander to get out as much water as you can, then transfer to a large serving bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons sesame oil and toss to coat all the noodles. Set aside.
Make the sauce.In a blender, add all the ingredients listed for the sauce: 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 knob ginger, 3 cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce, a generous handful of cilantro sprigs, and start with 1 tablespoon water. Blend for 1-2 minutes until the sauce is completely smooth. Add another tablespoon or two of water if it seems too thick.
Prep veggies. What vegetables you include in this meal are entirely up to you, and you can leave them out entirely if you want. I say the more veggies the better. I've included a list of no-cook vegetables that I think would be delicious. For the meal I made in the photos, here's what to do:
Chop the ends off the English cucumber. Slice in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the centers, the watery seedy part. See photos. Then slice each halve in half again lengthwise, then chop into bite size pieces. Add to the bowl of noodles.
Slice the red bell pepper (see photos for slicing tips), then chop the slices into thirds. Add to the noodle bowl.
Add 1 cup shredded carrots. If you need to shred them yourself, peel first, then shred on a box grater. You will need about 3 small carrots. Add to the noodle bowl.
Chop about 1/2 cup green onions, I kept mine in a bunch and started from the green end, cutting on a bias. Add to the bowl.
Chop about 1/3 cup cilantro and add to the bowl.
Add all the sauce from the blender, and stir to coat all the noodles and vegetables. Tongs are handy here to get everything distributed.
Dish the pasta and veggies into bowls or plates, and garnish with extra cilantro, green onions, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Drizzle each serving with a little sesame oil. Dig in!
If you add a TON of veggies, or plan to serve this with a protein, you might want to double the sauce! Never a bad idea, any leftovers will save well in the fridge and you can dip veggies in it later, or use if for another meal. See post for lots of ideas!Other veggies you could include: peas (thawed from frozen), sugar snap peas, snow peas, halved cherry tomatoes, broccoli, chopped kale, cauliflower, spinach, celery, corn, thin-sliced radish, mushrooms.