Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tahini Noodles with Cucumbers and Chicken

This has easily become one of our favorite dishes, and it changes and evolves each time we make it.  It's one of those recipes where you use what you have on hand.  Well, ok, not everyone has tahini paste on hand, but we do.  Of course we've tweaked it to become a little healthier with the substitution of whole grain noodles.  And yes, that is some of our home-grown basil on top!  He will be featured much more further down the page, as well as our newly acquired penny royal.

The recipe is an adaptation from chef Ming Tsai:


1/2 cup chinese sesame paste or tahini (can also substitute creamy peanut butter)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
2 serrano chiles, de-stemmed
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup basil leaves
1 bunch chopped scallions
1/3 cup mint leaves
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 pound angel hair pasta, blanched and refreshed
2 english cucumbers julienned
2 cups shredded chicken from whole roasted chicken
Garnish: 1 red bell pepper finely diced

Instead of serrano chiles, we used two seeded jalapenos that we had on hand.
We also threw in an extra garlic clove to ward off the vampires.
We substituted the mint leaves for penny royal which made it less sweet and more spearmint-y (if that made any sense).  We've made it with both kinds of mint, and I prefer the sweet mint, but I wasn't about to go out and buy some.

I find this sauce doesn't need any salt, but feel free to add it in later.

Obviously we had more than 1/3 cup of basil...

We used one cucumber for this version, which made the sauce kind of watery.  Zucchinis were used in the past and make an excellent substitution.

We fried two
chicken breast paillard style for our dish.  John tenderized them and flattened them before searing them well in our cast iron on both sides.

They were beautifully golden, picture worthy just in themselves.

And of course, the whole grain linguine instead of wimpy angel hair pasta.


In a food processor, mix sesame paste, oils, and vinegar. Add chile, garlic, and herbs and puree until smooth.
Season with salt and pepper. In a large mixing bowl toss pasta, cucumbers and chicken with dressing.
Check for seasoning and garnish with red bell peppers and basil/mint leaves.

The dish is great warm and even better chilled the next day.  Something about all those refreshing herbs and general brightness of flavor goes so well when it's chilled.  Plus, the sauce clings to the noodles better.

John likes his with sriracha sauce.  Lots of it.

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