Dinner was cleared and put away. The kids and animals seemingly content and quiet throughout the house. Honestly, I’m not sure that was true, but the house was oddly calm when I happened to look out through the back door and realized one of those epic Yakima sunsets was just getting underway.
I grabbed a glass of wine and headed for the back patio. I got cozy on the sofa and even tucked a blanket around my feet as the wind blessedly blew cool air, sending the poplar trees waving and dipping. I watched as the sky turned brilliant shades of pink, orange and purple, melting into ribbons of color behind Mount Adams. It is by far my favorite show to watch on any given night.
It was the perfect symbolic nod to a busy and hectic week filled with back-to-school hoopla and the inevitable anxiety that goes along with new and exciting changes. The frenetic energy around my house had turned up to an 11; even the animals seemed to know something different was underway. Needless to say, that sunset felt unusually special.
As we get our footing underneath us with new school schedules and the arrival of evening sports and activities, dinner will once again find itself smashed between soccer drop-offs, math homework and who knows what else.
I like to think of dinner as a little moment of comfort in the chaos of a busy day (regardless if you have young kids, older kids or no kids). After a long day, dinner can seem a little like climbing a mountain; intimidating, unappealing and way more effort than necessary. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Simple recipes like these spicy sesame noodles bridge the gap between tasty comfort food and a simple, easy-to-make meal you can set in front of your family.
Spaghetti noodles get a hit of flavor with a little garlic, ginger and chili garlic paste. Tahini gives the sauce a subtle nutty flavor and a silky, creamy texture, while the red pepper flakes add the perfect amount of spice. Shredded cooked chicken or grilled salmon would be lovely additions, as would greens, cucumber, red bell pepper or roasted broccoli to bulk up the recipe and make it an easy one-pot dinner.
Endlessly adaptable, spicy sesame noodles are the perfect weeknight recipe and a go-to meal all year long.
Spicy Sesame Noodles
1 pound spaghetti noodles
1 14-ounce bag shredded cabbage coleslaw mix
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook spaghetti noodles to package instructions, usually about eight minutes. When the noodles are soft, drain the water and transfer to a large shallow bowl. Combine the hot noodles with the cabbage mix and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Use tongs to combine the ingredients. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine garlic, ginger, remaining tablespoon sesame oil, olive oil, tahini, chili garlic paste, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for about 2 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant and the oil just barely simmers along the edges. Stir to combine the ingredients and then pour the hot oil mixture over the noodles. Mix and stir until the noodles are well coated. Garnish with minced cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve warm immediately or put the noodles in the refrigerator and serve cold. Recipe makes 6 servings.
Andrea McCoy’s Salt and Stone column and recipes appear twice a month in Explore.