RECIPE: Tahini transforms plain noodles like magic

Credit: Virginia Willis

Credit: Virginia Willis

Everyone needs a “desperation dinner,” a quick and easy dish that the whole family will love, one that can be whipped up at the last minute and can be prepared with ingredients that you always have on hand. Sound like magic? Open sesame!

Sesame seeds are featured in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine and can be enjoyed whole, as a paste, and pressed for their oil. After the oil is pressed, the remaining solids, called spent meal, may also be used as a gluten-free flour.

Don’t let those tiny little seeds fool you, sesame seeds are packed with nutrients. Sesame is a superfood, one that offers maximum nutritional benefits for minimal calories. It’s a fantastic plant-based protein, loaded with calcium and high in fiber. Sesame seed paste is the rich, buttery secret in the sauce that takes this dish of plain noodles from desperate to delicious.

Until a few years ago, sesame paste was not commonly available and many recipes substituted peanut butter. Now, tahini, the Middle Eastern sesame paste, has gone mainstream. (Chinese sesame paste is still not widely available, but may be found at Asian markets and online.) Tahini is not the same as the Chinese sesame paste, but they are interchangeable. The primary difference is that tahini contains hulled, raw sesame seeds and the Chinese version is made from toasted sesame seeds, making it darker, nuttier and bolder in flavor.

Cold sesame noodles have been standard takeout fare for decades. Now, you can easily make them at home, using ubiquitous, quick-cooking pasta for an easy weeknight meal. At its simplest, noodles, edamame, tahini, soy sauce and garlic combine for a solid supper. Carby comfort doused in a sour, salty, bitter, sweet and umami-packed sauce, what’s not to love? And, if you add garnishes, the return is even greater. Top it with shaved cabbage, grated carrot, chopped green onions or matchsticks of cucumber.

Sesame Noodles

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