Some of the food blogs I’ve bookmarked are superfluous. I know I’m never going to make a Peanut Butter Brownie Chip Cookie Dough Explosion Bar. (Okay, I made that up, but I bet it exists.) However, I still enjoy looking at pictures of them. Why am I never going to make what could possibly be the most amazing creation on the planet? Because a proper serving size would probably be a teaspoon and I would inhale a cup worth. I know some people would say to just bring them to work or give them to friends. If my co-worker brought those to work, I would want to shoot them. (Perhaps I should mention that my office is right next to the kitchen. No one would see me eat them all.) Some things are better left to the imagination.

I stupidly felt that way about noodle dishes that included peanut butter. My love for peanut butter is so great that I questioned my ability to exhibit restraint. I can’t even begin to tell you what I’ve been missing! The sauce adheres to the noodles, making each bite more flavorful than the last. Speaking of flavor, the combination of chili-garlic sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil creates a true restaurant quality dish. I might have gone back for seconds (and thirds…) but the noodles were still healthier than if I had run down to P.F. Chang’s. And I didn’t follow my meal with a “Candy Bar inside a Cookie inside a Cupcake covered in Nutella Buttercream.” (This one may not exist.)

Sesame Noodles with Chicken and Asparagus

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2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 12 ounces) cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 pound linguine (or spaghetti)

1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup peanut butter

5 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/4 cup oyster sauce

2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

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Bring water to boil in large pot. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken until no longer pink, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook until just beginning to soften, about 8 minutes (or 3/4 of pasta’s cooking time). Add asparagus to pot and cook until bright green and pasta is al dente, about 4 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, drain pasta and asparagus, and return to pot.

Whisk peanut butter, vinegar, oyster sauce, chili-garlic sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and 1/2 cup pasta cooking water in bowl until smooth.

Add peanut butter mixture and chicken to pot and toss to combine, adding reserved pasta water as needed. Serve.

Serves 4

Source: Cook’s Country April/May 2009

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