Makes 4 servings: 1 cup each
When the weather turns warmer, I “crave” cold sesame noodles often. Unfortunately, they’re so much more caloric than they seem. So I tasked myself with developing a version that was a little (or a lot!) friendlier for the waistline. Here’s the result. Zucchini acts as the noodles. I use just the amount of sesame oil need for deliciousness. And I pumped up the ginger and garlic so it’s big on flavor. Hope you enjoy slurping up these “noodles” as much as I do.
Calories saved: 550
Why it’s better for you: Veggie noodles = more total vegetables consumed
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh gingerroot
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 red Thai chili pepper, with seeds, minced
1/3 cup brown rice vinegar
1/4 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons naturally-brewed tamari soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
2 teaspoons Asian chili paste with garlic
3 large or 4 medium zucchini, unpeeled
2 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons pan-toasted black or white sesame seeds
- Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and chili and cook while stirring until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat, add the vinegar, peanut butter, tamari, honey, and chili paste and whisk until evenly combined. Chill well. (Makes 1 1/4 cups peanut-sesame sauce.)
- Cut the zucchini lengthwise into thin, spaghetti-like strips, preferably using a juilienne peeler or spiralizer. (Hint: Keep on the stem end is using a peeler to make the peeling process go smoothly.) Add to a 2-quart microwave-safe dish, cover with unbleached parchment paper, and microwave on high until cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove from the microwave and let stand covered for 5 minutes to complete the cooking process. Chill well.
- When ready to serve, gently squeeze zucchini of excess liquid over the sink using a clean kitchen towel. Toss together the chilled zucchini, chilled peanut-sesame sauce*, and scallions in a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve immediately.
*Use desired amount of the sauce. The nutrition analysis is based on full use of the sauce.
Per serving: 280 calories, 20g total fat, 3.5g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 650mg sodium, 21g total carbohydrate, 3g dietary fiber, 15g sugars, 8g protein
The “Before” Recipe
cold sesame noodles
Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh grated gingerroot
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 hot chile pepper (with seeds), minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon chili sauce
8 ounces dry soba noodles
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Heat 1/2 cup of the sesame oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and chile. Cook while stirring until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a blender container along with the brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, water, and chili sauce. Cover and puree until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Stir in the noodles. Cook until al dente (cooked through yet still firm), about 1 minute less than package directions. Drain immediately and rinse under cold running water to cool. Drain the noodles, transfer to a serving bowl, and toss immediately with the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil.
- Add the chilled sesame sauce and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and serve.
Per serving: 830 calories, 53g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1570mg sodium, 75g total carbohydrate, 3g dietary fiber, 24g sugars, 24g protein
- Consider using zucchini or yellow summer squash in place of pasta or other noodles from time to time
- Go for flavorful oils, like toasted sesame oil, so you can use less without missing the excess
- Pump up the high-flavor, calorie-friendly ingredients, like fresh ginger and garlic, when you’re making a recipe healthier so the end result is actually tastier