Cold Peanut Sesame Noodles

I heard somewhere that Memorial Day rates the highest of all days of the year for American meat consumption.  And judging from my family alone, I can’t say I’m surprised.  Last weekend, in a span of 3 short days, we had burgers, steaks, pork chops, smoked pork shoulder, beef brisket and grilled chicken.  Now, I love me some meat, and meat hot off the grill most of all, but it left us all feeling a bit, well… heavier, than when we started out.  I actually found myself craving tofu and lettuce when we got home.

Ok, that’s a lie.  But it was almost that serious.  Anyway, let’s just say that a vegetarian meal definitely wouldn’t do us any harm.

Do you feel this way?  Well, if you do, I have just the thing for you to make for dinner tonight.  I know that we’re only a few days into the official summer season now, but I promise you, your grill will be waiting for you tomorrow.  Cold peanut noodles beckon.

I found this recipe after searching high and low for something that could stand in for the peanut noodles at one of my favorite restaurants.  I tried a few different ones, but this is the one that came closest after some fiddling.  Since then, it’s become a dinner staple around here.  Even my husband, who was skeptical at first (“Peanut butter? Noodles? Seriously?!”), requests this one from time to time.

I love it for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, it’s delicious.  That’s a given. But it’s also convenient, because almost all of the ingredients are always stocked in my pantry.  I’ve even been known to use spaghetti when we don’t have soba noodles. Actually, I think the original called for spaghetti, and I changed it.  So nothing lost there.  The garnishes depend on whats in the fridge.  Anything cool, crisp, and fresh is perfect.  I don’t usually have tofu around, but some cubes of firm tofu would make this even more meal-worthy.

The peanut sauce is what finally made me settle on this recipe as the best of those I had tried.  It has that well-rounded peanut flavor that makes peanut noodles so good, but it also has the perfect balance of spicy sweetness from the ginger and rich umami taste that comes from the soy sauce and sesame oil.  You could even just make the sauce and it would be a tasty dipping sauce for grilled chicken satays and the like.  But there I go with the meat again.  But really, with everything I just said about this being a great meal idea when you’re craving something fresh and vegetarian, this would also be a great cold salad to bring along to your next BBQ.  Because, you know, the 4th of July is right around the corner…

Cold Peanut Sesame Noodles

adapted from  this Gourmet recipe

The original recipe calls for everything to be tossed together, but I have a thing for each person customizing their own veggies and garnishes.  That way, everyone gets exactly what they want.  That said, I usually just toss all the leftovers together before I put them in the fridge, and it’s great that way, too.

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup warm water

2 tablespoons peeled fresh ginger, minced

1 medium garlic clove, finely minced

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes or chili sauce (such as Sriracha)

3/4 lb soba noodles

For garnish:

4 scallions, thinly sliced

seedless cucumber, sliced very thinly or cut into match sticks

1 red, yellow,or orange bell pepper, cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted


Whisk together dressing ingredients until smooth and combined in a large bowl. (Alternatively, don’t bother chopping anything up finely, and toss everything into a blender or food processor and puree for a minute or too.  You’ll get a smoother sauce.  It also just occurred to me that this would be a great application for my favorite kitchen tool, an immersion blender!)

Cook soba noodles in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until tender. Drain in a colander, then rinse well under cold water.

Toss noodles with the peanut sauce, then serve with veggies, sesame seeds, and cilantro alongside.


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Filed under Pasta, Salad

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