I can’t believe that I haven’t blogged this yet, because it’s one of my favorite recipes of all time. As you may be able to tell from many of my posts, I’m a sucker for asian food, and this sesame chicken pasta salad really plays into that. The dressing for this combines all of my favorite flavors, and the result is a fresh, tangy pasta salad that just gets better the longer it sits in the fridge.
I haven’t made this recipe since last summer (when I moved to Boston!) so I figured it was appropriate to make it again tonight. Today was my first official day of Boston summer (I just got back from a visit home and have a few weeks until my internship and teaching jobs start), and this was a great way to end the day. Plus, this is a great recipe for a hot day because it requires minimal cooking.
I usually make a big batch of this. An entire box/ bag of pasta makes enough for lunch each day of the week and dinner on the night that I make it. The ingredients below are for a batch that uses half of a box of pasta, which will make enough for one dinner and three lunches. If you decide to use a whole box of pasta, double the below ingredients.
1/8 cup sesame seeds
8 oz bow tie pasta noodles (half a bag or box)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/6 cup soy sauce (approx. 3 T)
1/6 cup rice vinegar (approx. 3 T)
1 t sesame oil
1.5 T white sugar
1/4 t ground ginger
pinch of pepper
1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped green onion
To start, cook your chicken. I like to slather a chicken breast with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake it at 350 F for 25-30 minutes. You could also saute it.
Then heat a small skillet over medium heat and toast your sesame seeds. I actually didn’t have any sesame seeds in my kitchen today (how sad!) so I made the recipe without them. However, it’s much better with them, so do this step if you have sesame seeds on hand. Toast them briefly in the pan, paying attention because they may burn if you leave them on for too long. Toasting them will bring out their flavor. Set them aside when you’re done with this.
Cook your pasta to al dente, which means that it will taste slightly underdone to the average American cook. We’re used to mushy pasta in America, but Italians cook their pasta al dente, which literally means “to the tooth”. It should have a little bit of bite to it when you drain it because it will absorb the dressing and soften up later.
While the pasta is cooking, make your dressing by combining the vegetable oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, ginger and pepper in a bowl and stirring to combine. You can also mince the cilantro and green onions while you wait.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and rinse under cold water until the pasta no longer feels warm. Then dump it into a large bowl.
When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven/ pan and shred it using two forks, so that it is in tiny pieces.
Finally, add the chicken, cilantro and green onions to the pasta in the large bowl and toss the dressing in so that it coats all of the ingredients. And, just like that, you’re done! This stores well because the dressing soaks into the chicken as it sits in the fridge, making it even more flavorful than it was on the first day.
Ok, it’s time for me to go eat a bowl of this deliciousness for dinner. Happy summer, and enjoy!