Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sesame Chicken and Asparagus Pasta Salad

1 pound thin asparagus, trimmed and cut on diagonal into 1-inch lengths
8 ounces dried linguine, broken into 4-inch lengths
5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¾ cup chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup brown sugar if using healthy peanut butter, 2 tablespoons if using Jiff
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup sesame oil
¼ cup chicken stock, as needed
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper
3 boneless and skinless cooked chicken breast halves
Note: See cooking directions below.
1½ tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 scallions, white part and 3 inches of green, cut into 2-inch julienne or coarsely chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice, see instructions if you need them

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch asparagus in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Scoop out, leaving the water boiling. Drain until dry.
2. Add the linguine to the boiling water and cook until just tender. Drain, rinse under cold water, drain again, and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
3. Place the garlic, vinegar, peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes in a food processor. Process for 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly add the sesame oil and the stock, if necessary, through the feed tube; process until well blended. Adjust seasonings as you desire. The sauce should be thick and creamy but not stiff.
4. Shred the chicken into 2-inch julienne and toss with the linguine. Add some of the sauce and 1 tablespoon of the sesame seeds. Keep adding the sauce until the noodles and chicken are nicely moistened. Put the remainder of the sauce in a small serving bowl.
5. Place the linguine and chicken on a large flat serving platter or bowl and arrange the asparagus on top. Sprinkle with the scallions, cucumber, and remaining ½ tablespoon sesame seeds. Serve at room temperature. If you have any of the asparagus, scallions, or cucumbers which don’t fit on the platter, place them in small bowls and bring to the table, along with the extra sauce. You may want to add more of the goodies to your salad as you eat.

6 servings
Adapted from Julie Rosso and Sheila Lukins’ The New Basics Cookbook

How to poach chicken breasts 

1. Slip the chicken breasts into stock or salted water to cover, adding peppercorns, bay leaves and sprigs of thyme as you see fit.
2. Bring to a simmer, skim the foam off if you'd like, and cook covered on very low heat for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the breasts. Turn them over half way through cooking.
3. Poke a knife into the thickest part to make sure they are cooked all the way through. If they are not, let them simmer little while longer. Let them cool in the liquid.
4. Shred or slice, as needed.

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