Instead of smartly asking Carmen for the recipe to the wonderful Sesame Salad he served at the neighborhood dinner, I decided to try to recreate it. As luck would have it, James had recently made a sesame salad and was kind enough to share the recipe. James’ recipe called for meat or seafood, but I decided to omit them because I wanted something light that would highlight the fabulous bounty of vegetables I got this weekend in my CSA box.
When James sent me the recipe, there weren’t any measurements for the ingredients. James is an organic cook who flies by the seat of his pants in the kitchen (and trust me, this is a philosophy carried throughout his life…he is an endless source of entertaining stories). However, this doesn’t help someone trying to replicate his successes. But if I can make it through watching my beloved Opera cake falling on the head of the Diva, I can decipher James’ recipe. Or at least fry trying (yeah, I know, it was a bad pun…couldn’t resist it).
2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus 1 teaspoon for pasta water
2-3 hot peppers, diced (depends on level of spiciness desired)
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered Mexican hot pepper or paprika
3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 large red pepper or a pack of small multi colored peppers, diced
1/2 pound snow peas in their pod
1/2 pound asparagus, sliced
4-6 white mushrooms, chopped
8 ounces thick pasta (i.e. fettuccine, linguine or rice noodles)
Dash of salt, to salt the pasta water
Boil pasta with salt and sesame oil until done, then drain and set aside.
Heat the remaining sesame oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Add the hot peppers, sesame seeds, garlic, and Mexican hot pepper (or paprika). The oil should NOT be smoking at any point! Let the spices simmer on lowest setting for 3-4 minutes, and afterwards, turn heat to medium and add the soy sauce and allow the spices to meld with it for about 2 minutes. Add the peppers and asparagus and cook for about a minute before tossing in the mushrooms and snow peas. Reduce the heat to low and add the hoisin sauce. Toss to make sure everything is coated evenly. Cook for another 3 minutes and then add the pasta. Toss to coat the pasta in the sauce and vegetables. Keep the pasta and vegetables on low and allow the sauce to thicken (this takes about another 4 minutes). The salad can be served either hot or chilled for a few hours before eating.
Note: Picture of pasta taken by Liz.