It’s Almost Summer … Bring On The Salads!

With summer almost upon us, it’s time to start thinking of cool, fresh salads.  When I was living in Nashville, Tennessee, a favorite place for lunch served these cold sesame noodles, loaded with fresh vegetables.  It was always a highlight of the summer to grab a bowl and sit in the beautiful courtyard of the Nashville Public Library.

While browsing some magazines, I came across this recipe for Cold Sesame Noodles with Extra Veggies and decided to see if it mirrored the noodles I remember.  Yes, it did, and I was thrilled, but I did make a few changes along the way.

To make the recipe healthier, I omitted the salt in the water for cooking the noodles.  I also used Smart Balance Peanut Butter, low sodium soy sauce and less sesame oil.  The original recipe did not call for zucchini.  Zucchini is a staple in our refrigerator so I added two to the mixture.  Our spiral slicer did not cooperate so I used the food processor and shredded the carrots, zucchini and the cucumbers.  Feel free to make any changes to the recipe to suit your healthy diet.  The recipe states it makes four servings, however I stretched it to six servings and served it over shredded lettuce.  Full of veggies and taste, this will be a repeat for our summer menu.  Enjoy!

Cold Sesame Noodles Loaded with Veggies
Serves 4

1 teaspoon coarse salt
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
1 cup edible pea pods (or sugar snap peas), trimmed
5 tablespoons smooth (or chunky) peanut butter (no sugar added)
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 large carrots, peeled and cut with a spiral slicer into “noodles” (or shredded or cut into matchsticks)
2 medium zucchini, cut with a spiral slicer into “noodles” (or shredded or cut into matchsticks)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded (or cut into matchsticks)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

Directions
Bring a large pot of water with 1 teaspoon coarse salt to a boil. Boil pasta, stirring occasionally, until al dente; during last 2 minutes add pea pods, and cook until crisp-tender. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup liquid. Rinse pasta and peas under cold water to cool.

Whisk peanut butter with reserved cooking liquid, vinegar, soy sauce, and oil in a large bowl. Add pasta, peas, carrots, zucchini and cucumber and toss to combine. Top with sesame seeds.

NOTE: For a healthier version, omit the salt, use Smart Balance Peanut Butter and low-sodium soy sauce.