Sesame Chicken Noodle Salad

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A cool, delicious salad for hot summer evenings, picnics, even the beach!

 

  • 8 ounces thin spaghetti (half a box)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 medium red bell peppers – chopped or sliced
  • 1 large English cucumber – peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Toasted sesame seeds and more cilantro for garnish (optional)

For peanut sauce:

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (plus more for drizzling on pasta)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Asian chile sauce – such as sambal oelek or Sriracha (optional)

 

Place chicken on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or til just done.  Let cool.  Slice thin and toss with 2 tbs soy sauce and 2 tbs mirin.  (Add a little honey instead if you don’t have mirin). Chill. (Optionally: use leftover cooked chicken instead, or from a store-cooked rotisserie chicken).

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold running water; drain well. When the noodles are cold, toss with sesame oil (just use your clean hands to coat all the strands) and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.

Meanwhile, make Peanut Sauce: whisk peanut butter, vinegar, sesame oil and rice wine in a bowl until smooth (or use a blender). Add scallions, cilantro, if using, soy sauce and hot sauce, and stir to blend.

Add the chicken, peppers and cucumber to the noodles. (Feel free to add any other thinly sliced veggies you have on hand – zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, etc). If serving immediately, add three-fourths of the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining dressing if desired. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl. Serve garnished with sesame seeds and cilantro. (If serving later, or if unsure whether your crowd likes peanut sauce, you can serve it on the side.  I like the salad without it sometimes, perhaps with an extra drizzle of mirin.)

 

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