Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Spicy Asian-Style Pasta Salad

This dish is such a comfort food!  Since my early teenage years, it has been a "mah-jor" (to quote stylist Rachel Zoe) personal and family favourite; one that is perfect for entertaining or whipping up for on the go.  The best part?  The longer it's in your refrigerator, the better it tastes (as this allows the spices to marinate all the more) —That is, if you have any leftover...

Serves: 6


For the dressing:
  • 4 T. oriental sesame oil
  • 3 T. honey
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 3 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

For the pasta:
  • 1 pound linguine, broken in half (or virtually any sort of noodle -- Soba or Rice noodles are perfect if you want to keep to the Asian theme!)
  • 3 red bell peppers, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups snow peas
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil


Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain very well. Transfer to large bowl.

Whisk 3 tablespoons sesame oil, honey, soy sauce, vinegar and cayenne pepper in small bowl to blend. Season with salt.  Mix half of dressing into pasta.  Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add bell peppers, peas and onion and sauté until just beginning to wilt, about 2 minutes.  Add vegetables to pasta.  Mix in peanuts, basil and enough dressing to coat.  Serve, passing any remaining dressing separately.


The dressing doesn't yield very much, so you might try doubling or tripling the measurements.  Also, the amount of cayenne called for isn't nearly enough to my liking, so I always add a chili paste and/or red pepper flakes.  Keep stirring and taste-testing the dressing until you get it just right.

This pasta salad makes for a wonderfully filling side dish, or as a main dish by tossing in some meat (i.e. shrimp or marinated chicken).  Pair it with a bottle of dry, crisp Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, or Viognier (more Wine Pairings with Asian food in this post from White On Rice Couple).

Needing a fresh food idea for this weekend?  Well, chop & sauté those spare vegetables you've been needing to use up, and put some pasta water on to boil.  Make the dressing in the meantime, mix everything together, and voilà!

I love this recipe so much that I can't have had it too many times before I'm hankering for it again.  Make some for yourself, and tell me your thoughts below!

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