Nope, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. This is actually a real post about food!
Instead of sitting in front of the computer all afternoon, I dusted off my apron (after realizing that my protruding stomach was getting splattered in food) and spent the majority of Cullen’s nap time working in the kitchen today. It was a nice change of pace, and one I intend to exercise more often going forward.
One of my friends had a baby last week, and I was in charge of bringing her family dinner tonight. Of course I was happy and eager to help, but we all know that bringing dinner is really just an excuse to snuggle and sniff a newborn. I’ve been looking forward to it for days!
I wanted to make something that would be easy for them to serve, with minimal prep or reheating necessary. My typical go-to’s of chili or soup just seemed heavy and hot in this sunny, summer weather. So I opted for a cold noodle salad instead, and it turned out to be really tasty! Rather than keep it to myself, I figured it was high time I lug out my camera and share some of what I’ve been cooking with you…
Crunchy Vegetable Sesame Noodle Salad
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Ingredients (4-6 servings)
10 oz spaghetti noodles
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and halved
2 bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
2 cups shredded green cabbage
1 cup grated carrot
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
For the Dressing
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon white or yellow miso
1 tablespoon ginger syrup (or sub maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste)
Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. I know I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’m loving Jovial brand Einkorn wheat pasta these days. It has a great nutritional profile unlike traditional wheat, and it’s packed with all sorts of extra minerals and good things you don’t typically associate with pasta.
With that said, any brand or variety of pasta will work, so choose your personal favorite! While pasta cooks, trim the beans and slice the bell peppers.
With about 2-3 minutes left on the pasta cook time, add beans to the boiling water and stir to mix with the pasta.
Drain pasta and beans once cooked (beans will just be blanched to soften) and immediately rinse with cool water to prevent sticking.
In a large sauté pan or wok, cook bell pepper, cabbage, and carrot in a tiny bit of sesame oil over high heat – just enough to soften and cook a bit of water out. You still want these veggies to have a good crunch in the final salad.
I bought pre-shredded bagged varieties of carrots and cabbage, but you could always prep them yourself. Although I tend to find that bagged carrots retain a bit more structure and crunch than carrots that are freshly grated.
While the veggies cook, whisk all dressing ingredients together. To spice things up and balance with a bit of sweetness, I added a dash of this ginger syrup that we have on hand for Saturday morning pancakes (it’s Casey’s favorite!). But being a very obscure ingredient, I don’t expect you to have that in your pantry. Feel free to sub in maple syrup or honey instead!
Add pasta and beans to the sauté pan and drizzle with dressing. Stir to combine the whole salad for another minute or two over high heat.
Add additional salt as needed. Garnish with sesame seeds, and either serve immediately, or store to be served cold or room temperature.
This salad is very versatile, and the flavor just continues to get better if it has a few hours to marinate.
While I prepped and prepared the pasta dish, I also had some delicious fresh berry crumble baking away in the oven to take for dessert…
All packed up and ready to go visit a friend!
But of course I couldn’t take them something new unless I tried it first. A small tasting set aside for the chef that did not disappoint.
I packed up dinner and a few other gifts and headed out the door as soon as Cullen was up from his nap. I stayed for the appropriate 30-40 minutes, even though I was tempted to set up camp in their guest bedroom so that I could squeeze in some extra snuggles.
As it was, I got to spend a blissful 30 minutes with a five-day old baby snoring on my shoulder. It was amazing and sort of terrifying all at once. I leaned over to Cullen to show him the little guy, and received a “No, baby!” with his signature karate chop move in return.
So that should be fun.
I hope this meal warmed their bellies and helped get them through another one of those early tiresome nights. I thanked my friend afterward for motivating me to get back into the kitchen, and reminding me of what I truly love to do – cook for others – whether it is for my family, her family, or your family.