I grew up in a family that rarely ordered delivery or takeout, which perhaps explains my enthusiasm for indulging every once in a while. Since moving to NYC nearly two years ago, I can count the number of delivery orders I have placed on two hands. This in a city booming with Seamless orders and bike deliveries. For me, such occasions are calculated investments, as the meals are usually about half the cost of my groceries for a week and more calories than I’d like to know.
Anyways, Chinese food has always been the ultimate indulgence. I would bet that for most of America, an oily container of lo mein is a mediocre Wednesday night. For me, it’s a fulfillment of my childhood takeout dreams (no offense to my gourmet health-centric mother). The Big Apple has a lot to offer when it comes to Chinese food. A favorite of mine is Xi’an Famous Foods, a Northern Chinese spot that serves a delectable spicy cucumber salad and mouth-watering noodles. I have also been introduced to a gem just across the bridge in New Jersey, Baumgart’s Cafe. I would eat their sesame noodles daily if possible.
Like mother like daughter I suppose – I still dream about Chinese takeout and instead opt for healthier, budget-friendly versions of the real thing. Fortunately, this peanut sesame noodle dish leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. It is just the right amount of sweet and salty and takes less than 30 minutes to throw together.
Ingredients (four servings):
6 oz of dry whole wheat linguine or about 1/3 of a standard box of dry pasta
2 large carrots
1 jalapeno (optional)
1 bunch of green onions
1 red bell pepper
2 cups of chopped broccoli florets
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (less than $.50 at Whole Foods bulk section)
1.5 tablespoons of peanut butter
1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of oil
Optional: 1 tablespoon of Sriracha
Boil pasta according to directions on package. I like mine slightly al dente. Drain noodles and set aside. Using a spiralizer or a vegetable peeler, strip your carrot into ribbon-like noodles in a large bowl.
Trim your green onions and slice them into small rings (here’s a good explanation). Add them to the bowl along with your chopped broccoli florets. Trim the bell pepper and slice it into thin strips, also adding this to the bowl. If you are using a jalapeno for spice, simply chop off the stem and slice the pepper into thin slivers, leaving the seeds intact, and add these to the bowl.
In a measuring cup, combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and oil (and Sriracha if you like spice like me!). If your peanut butter is refrigerated and tough, go ahead and pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds or combine the wet ingredients in a food processor to make the stirring easier. Give the sauce a taste – if you’d prefer a sweeter flavor, add a hint of sugar and stir until dissolved.
Combine the linguine noodles with all of the vegetables and pour the sauce over everything. Stir thoroughly to ensure that all of the noodles are covered and the vegetables are dispersed. Finally, top things off with the sesame seeds and mix once more. Serve up warm or cold. If serving out of the refrigerator, a teaspoon or so of olive oil will help loosen things up.