Inevitably, most of my sideline conversations turn towards food. While other parents are strategizing about player placement and playing time, I am polling people on their latest recipe successes and menu plans.
The talk always works its way over to dinner and the ever-ellusive Quick Fix. You know, that easy weeknight meal that makes the whole family happy and can be turned out as the table is being set. My business, Sly Rooster: Creating Comfortable Cooks, is based on these “go to” meals but emphasizes the first step which is maintaining a well-stocked pantry. With the right ingredients in your pantry, as well as your freezer and even your refrigerator, a wide array of recipes become “quick and easy” for a weeknight meal. I believe that with an arsenal of ingredients at your disposal, even a timid cook can become the master of their domain–or quite the Clever Hen.
In response to popular demand (sideline friends, you know who you are), I will begin an occasional series of Quick Fixes. Here I’ll share recipes that are undeniably quick and easy but make the assumption that you have some essential staples. For example, you may have to go out and buy a jar of minced ginger for the recipe below, but I guarantee that if you do you will use it again and again. With that one purchase, a slew of Asian recipes suddenly become quick fixes.
And while Creating Comfortable Cooks enables me to tailor recipes to each client’s specific situation and dietary guidelines, these recipes are more general. They work for my family so chances are they’ll work for yours, too.
We begin with Sesame Noodles. This is a dish that I have no fewer than seven recipes for and have been making in various incarnations for years. It’s a favorite at potlucks and my #1 weeknight “go-to.” If I’m feeling ambitious, the noodles may get topped with some grilled chicken but more often than not, when sesame noodles are on the docket, it’s 7 o’clock and dinner needs to be served thirty minutes ago.
My new favorite way to prepare sesame noodles takes the delicious dressing from Once Upon a Chef’s Thai Crunch Salad and has me pouring it over al dente spaghetti. Toss and serve with smiles and clean plates all around.
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 1/4 c creamy peanut butter
- 2 Tbls rice wine vinegar
- 2 Tbls fresh lime juice, from one lime
- 3 Tbls vegetable oil
- 1 Tbls soy sauce
- 2 Tbls honey
- 2 1/2 Tbls sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1-inch square piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (remainder of fresh ginger, wrapped in plastic and stored in your freezer) or 1 Tbls minced ginger (bought in a jar from Asian food aisle of your supermarket and stored in your refrigerator)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbls fresh cilantro leaves
- Boil water in a large pot and add spaghetti. Cook according to package directions, drain and return to pot.
- Meanwhile, add all of the other ingredients--peanut butter thru cilantro to your blender and process until completely smooth.
- Pour dressing over the warm noodles. Toss and serve!
- If you have any extra time or ingredients, feel free to top the noodles with grilled chicken strips (bought or prepared), sliced scallions, cucumbers, red pepper, toasted sesame seeds, roasted peanuts and/or chopped cilantro.