Sesame Chicken Pasta with Thai-Style Peanut Sauce

Sesame Asparagus Pasta

This mound of tender noodles smothered in a creamy, lightly sweet and spicy Sesame-peanut sauce is crazy delicious and so easy, it should absolutely and utterly convince you to branch out of the cheesy, must-be-red-sauce noodle camp and try a peanut noodle recipe if you haven’t already. The intense, flavorful sauce is quickly blended together and tossed with hot, cooked noodles, tender chicken, and asparagus blanched quickly in the same pot as the noodles. It may be obvious already but let me interject here that variations may very well be endless: leave out the chicken for a meatless version, substitute broccoli or peas for the asparagus, and if you want to get really wild and crazy, I think quinoa would actually be a delicious variation in place of noodles (kind of reminds me of this favorite Thai-style quinoa salad).

Sesame Asparagus Pasta

Add on the fresh simple toppings that cut through the richness of the sauce and you find me wondering how often I can risk making this without turning against peanut noodles forever or causing my family to revolt and picket in front of the house with banners reading “save the children!” and “tacos forever” (hint: I tested out the question and found out and it’s an awful awful lot of times).

I’ll never turn my back on an indulgent cheesy noodle dish or classic spaghetti (oh heavens no) but give me variety with the tastiest peanut noodle dish of the century (ok, October) and I’m a very happy girl.

Sesame Asparagus Pasta

What To ServeFresh fruit (cantaloupe drizzled with a bit of honey and lime juice would be divine here)
Roasted broccoli or Simple Skillet Green Beans

One Year Ago: Dinner in a Pumpkin
Two Years Ago: Overnight Steel Cut Oats
Three Years Ago: Cinnamon Apple Cider Muffins

Sesame Chicken Asparagus Pasta with Creamy Peanut Sauce

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Ingredients:

Pasta, Chicken and Extras:

  • 8 ounces linquine, thin spaghetti or regular spaghetti (whole wheat works great)
  • 3 cups diced, cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken meat works great here as well as this simple skillet method for quick, shredded chicken)
  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted (optional but adds great flavor)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 English cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, to taste

Peanut Sauce:

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine or rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey
  • 6 tablespoons chunky or smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • Hot sauce (like sriracha, to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Pinch of black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the linguine according to package directions. During the last two minutes of cooking time, add the asparagus pieces. Drain the pasta and asparagus together in a colander.
  2. While the pasta cooks, make the sauce by combining the garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, peanut butter, soy sauce, and hot sauce in a blender or food processor. Blend until well-combined. With the blender or food processor running, drizzle in the sesame and olive oil and process until blended and smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed. Set aside.
  3. Transfer the pasta and asparagus to a large serving bowl. Add the chicken. Pour the sauce over the top along with two tablespoons of the sesame seeds. Toss to combine so the ingredients are coated with the sauce.
  4. Top the pasta dish with the green onions, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, cilantro and sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Notes:

You could easily sub in other vegetables for the asparagus: broccoli, peas, cauliflower come to mind. Also the chicken could easily be left out for a vegetarian meal or for a side dish option.

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Recipe Source: inspired by a recipe in a 10-year old cookbook compiled by wives of medical students (given to me by my sister-in-law, Erin, many years ago)