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Spicy Peanut and Sesame Noodles

If I had to choose only one type of food to eat for the rest of my life, it would unquestionably be pasta. It is absolutely, undoubtedly my favorite food. While most of my pasta posts tend to be either Italian-inspired or American comfort food, I do also have a major weakness for Asian noodles – especially peanut noodles, noodle soups (like pho and ramen) and curried noodles. Last week, I made my Slow-Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken (which is SO good!) + since it’s a dish with Asian-inspired flavors, I decided to try out a new side dish to accompany it – these Spicy Peanut and Sesame Noodles. And y’all, they turned out SO tasty!

They’ve got a great balance of flavors, between the rich peanut butter, the bright ginger/cilantro/lime, the sweet honey, the salty soy, and the spicy bite from the sriracha. And the textures balance beautifully, too – the creamy peanut butter against the crisp, thinly-sliced veggies and the crunchy sesame seed/peanut topping. These noodles are also fab because of their versatility – they can be a vegetarian-friendly main dish, or, they make a awesome side dish alongside an Asian-inspired chicken, pork, or tofu entree. Serve ’em hot, at room temperature, or even cold straight out of the fridge – they truly taste delicious all three ways!

Spicy Peanut and Sesame Noodles

Serves 4-6, adapted from Food Network

Ingredients

3 tablespoons sesame seeds
12 ounces noodles – I used udon noodles (which were amazing!), but you can use soba noodles, rice noodles, or even a non-Asian pasta like linguini.

For the Peanut Dressing:
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Zest and juice of 1/2 lime

Salad:
1/2 cup loosely-packed chopped fresh cilantro
2 green onions, sliced
2 carrots, peeled into strips with a vegetable peeler
1 small red bell pepper, sliced into very thin strips

For garnish:
1/4 cup roughly chopped skinless roasted peanuts
Lime wedges
Cilantro

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the sesame seeds in a pie tin and toast in the oven until light golden in color, 4 to 6 minutes, and set aside. Meanwhile, cook the pasta/noodles until al dente. Do not overcook. Drain, (reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy pasta water), and set aside.

Make the peanut dressing: Place the peanut butter in a large measuring cup (or a microwave-safe) bowl and microwave to soften, 15 seconds. Whisk together the softened peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, canola oil, ginger, honey, Sriracha, sesame oil and lime zest and juice. Thin with the starchy pasta water if needed, 1 tablespoon at a time. (Dressing should be thick, but pourable.)

Place the cooked pasta/noodles in a large mixing bowl and add the cilantro, green onions, carrots, and bell pepper – toss everything well to combine. Pour the peanut dressing over everything, and toss again until the noodle salad is well-coated and the dressing is evenly distributed. Top with the chopped peanuts, additional cilantro, lime wedges, and toasted sesame seeds and serve.