Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cold Sesame (Garlicky) Noodles


For almost a year, since the birth of my second son, I've been cooking for the lowest common denominator, meaning my three year old.  My husband and I reach for the hot sauce to make things more suitable to our palate. I'm not talking chicken nuggets and fries here...I pack as many vegetables into the food processor as I can, sauté, add coconut milk or tomatoes, simmer with some fish- you get the idea.  Roman will generally accept this type of preparation over rice or pasta, and I feel like it's a healthy enough way to ensure he's getting nutrients without forcing foods on him.  But lately I would like to regain a bit of my adult identity and I've started to think about the foods that can help me do that.
It's funny to think about being able to eat whatever I want, do whatever I want, wear what I please again. Everything has become tailored to my marathon days of schlepping two kids around the city. From park to park, then home again, we eat a lot of pb&j's, pizza, hummus and cucumber, muffins, things that are easy to tote around. So when I thought about making these cold sesame noodles, Roman (almost 4) was not who I had in mind to be the consumer. However, when there is pasta involved, he perked right up with interest and before I knew it he was reaching for his own bowl-- teaching me that the more chances I give him to like something out of his comfort zone, the more he might surprise me. Because parenting is, after all, full of surprises.

There are those dishes that tempt a brave palate.  If you value the taste experience and don't mind the way raw garlic tends to linger, this is a dish you are likely to enjoy.  
Fresh garlic stirred into silky sesame noodles, chilled for a delightful summer meal.  
Eat it with people you love and you won't have to be concerned about the aftermath of the raw garlic.  

Cold Noodles with Sesame Sauce
A recipe my mom used to make, with the addition of red bell pepper because it's still hard for me to think about eating something without a vegetable.
1 lb. linguine or spaghetti
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup sesame paste
3 tablespoons brewed tea or water
2 tablespoon chili oil (optional but recommended!)
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt to taste
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 red bell pepper, diced (optional)
Sliced scallions and cilantro for garnish
1 tablespoon sesame seeds for garnish

 Boil six cups of water and cook the noodles until tender. Drain and run cold water over them to chill them. Sprinkle with the teaspoon of sesame oil. To make the sauce, place the sesame paste in a bowl and add the tea or water, stirring with chopsticks or a fork. Stir in the remaining ingredients and the 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Toss the noodles in the sauce and red bell pepper, if using. Serve cold, garnished with fresh scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds.


  1. Nicole: so happy to see you blogging again... and looking to rekindle your adult palate too. This looks delicious.
    P.s. I hope blog again too - but IG is too fast and easy and satisfies my quick creative needs day and day out! Plus, I love the community aspect of it

    1. Amelia, It's funny I don't think I've found the sense of community on IG. Maybe my photos just aren't that interesting...who knows. Like Twitter, to me IG is starting to feel kind of cliquish, if you know what I mean.

    2. I use IG a lot but never really warmed up to Twitter... I just don't really get the point of it, while I constantly take pics with my phone and love sharing them and seeing others'.

  2. Hi Nicole! I'll be thinking of you out there in the parks with your two little guys, making memories. I'm happy to have a husband who enjoys garlic. So nice to see you here. Enjoy today.

  3. Hi Denise, Thank you for still stopping by to read and say hello. I'm looking forward to getting back to blogging more. I realize now that I've been away a while that I kind of grew to need this activity in my life! I do read and enjoy your blog, but barely comment from my IPhone - and there is usually someone with tiny fingers vying for my attention. :)

  4. I totally remember that phase when my second was about two when I suddenly started to think again about dressing, eating etc. that way I used too. A strong desire just suddenly kicked in and I understood my child-bearing years were over (although seeing a baby can still get all warm and fuzzy...). That is when I started cooking for us as a family following my and F's taste, although we naturally cut back on the chilli and certain textures. Kids truly are full of surprises and the younger they are the more open-minded they are. This summer people stopped at our table to compliment us while they watched my son pull snails out of their shells one by one and greedily slurp them down. That doesn't mean we don't get scenes about certain vegetables or eye-rolling when we serve something they don't love. But when their curiosity is piqued, they do respond. Those noodles look delicious and it is still just hot enough out to ponder making them.


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