It’s not you, it’s me. Or maybe it’s you, too. As we’re entering month four of a full house, I’m just tired of coming up with new things to make and serve, so I’ve been relying on my tried and true. It’s not the worst thing to get reacquainted with these no fail recipes that are easy to prepare and even easy to learn by heart.
Best of all, these recipes can fill the local army with homemade fare without breaking the bank, or spending all day cooking. I’m talking about Easiest French Bread Ever, Maple Oat Breakfast Bread and Everyday Granola in the morning, a constant supply of blender salsa and chile crisp, plus a big bowl of broccoli salad whenever I need a no cook veggie fix, which is pretty much always. It’s also the perfect time to fill your freezer with a Tupperware of Frosecco or any other frozen concoction. The slurpee mothership is kind of like your sourdough starter of cocktails. Just keep scooping it out, and adding more as needed. Is that a problem? Do I care?
Now that we’re getting out a little, I am running in to people who have been spending more time cooking while in quarantine. They have been making some Bring It all stars, which are also excellent for entertaining. Things like Funitella Bruschetta (recently updated!) and, of course, Hero Slaw. And for dessert, Loosey Goosey Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp and Beach Pie because, ‘tis the season!
Along the lines of no-fail fare, I give you my new favorite go-to recipe, which already feels like an old fave. Add this to your repertoire, and buy yourself some time to think about something other than “what’s for dinner?”
Takeout (or Stay-In) Noodles
From the New York Times
- 1 pound noodles, frozen or (preferably) fresh
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus a splash
- 3 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (or tahini; see notes)
- 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste, chile crisp or chile oil, or to taste
- Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/8-inch by 1/8-inch by 2-inch sticks
- ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes (or recommended amt if using dried). They should retain a hint of chewiness. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and toss with a splash of sesame oil.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic and chili-garlic paste. (You can also use an immersion blender or regular blender)
- Just before serving, pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with cucumber and peanuts.
These are infinitely adaptable, and for suggestions, scroll through the many comments on the original NY Times post here. I hit the high points and recommendations here, in case you are sharing your paltry Internet connection with many young, curious, ever- streaming tenants.
The Chinese toasted sesame paste called for here is not the same as tahini, the Middle Eastern paste made of raw, untoasted sesame. You can use tahini in a pinch, adding a little toasted sesame oil to compensate for flavor, or make your own from scratch with toasted sesame seeds and olive oil.
To prevent dry noodles, serve immediately, or hold the sauce. “I usually multiply the sauce recipe many times (I use a stick blender), and add a fairly minimal amount of the sauce to the noodles when they’re still warm. Chill the under–sauced noodles until you are ready to serve, and then mix in as much extra sauce as you need
Mind your noodles. The recipe says fresh or frozen, meaning egg noodles. It’s totally ok to use dried, as in regular spaghetti (my fave) or linguini, but 1.5 or double the sauce for a full pound of dried noodles.
This is serious picnic fare, and can accommodate Vegans and carnivores alike with a variety of toppings like: shredded duck or chicken, tofu, cucumber, sweet red pepper, hot pepper, scallion, jicama, carrots, etc, all cut to roughly the same size.