I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was to see toasted sesame seeds and black sesame seeds in my local grocer's spice section. While I've been able to find black sesame seeds in my city for a while, it usually took a special trip to a grocery or market that I don't often frequent.
As far as toasted is concerned, I’ve been toasting my own sesame seeds for years – burning quite a few along the way. So I was ecstatic to know that now I can simply reach into my spice cupboard and sprinkle to my heart’s delight.
Like many Americans growing up in the 1970s, I first fell in love with the nutty, diminutive presence on a sesame-seed hamburger bun. More entranced with the seeds dotting the bun than with the burger, I can remember being scolded as I “played” with my food. But there I was, picking those delicious little treasures off the bun and eating them one by one.
Fast-forward to now, and being able to keep a stock of white, black, toasted and plain sesame seeds within easy reach of the stovetop makes my possibilities seem practically endless. (However, do refrigerate the seeds if you’re not using them up fairly quickly.)
Sesame seeds make a lovely topping for salads, stir-fry recipes and rice pilafs. Or you could add them to the breading mix for baked fish or chicken, scatter over steamed vegetables, or even add to granola and yogurt. And here’s more good news – sesame seeds have long been valued for their health benefits and might be the world’s oldest condiment.
Today’s recipe is a Thai-Inspired Pasta Toss that’s easy to put together in 20 minutes. It offers a myriad of flavors, including my favorite little seed. For our Thai-inspired peanut “dipping” sauce recipe, visit our website at www. KitchenScoop.com.
Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are mothers whose cookbook is called “Desperation Dinners!” Send tales of woe or success and your favorite quick recipes to Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thai-Inspired Pasta Toss
Makes 4 servings. Start to finish: 20 minutes
8 ounces angel-hair pasta
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided use
1 tablespoon seeded and chopped fresh jalapeno pepper (see Cook’s note)
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup coarsely chopped yellow bell pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (see Cook’s note)
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (see Cook’s note)
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
3 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter (see Cook’s note)
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the jalapeno, carrots, mushrooms and red and yellow bell peppers. Stir and cook until the veggies are tender and the mushrooms have released their liquid, about five minutes. Add all the sesame seeds and green onions. Toss well, and remove the skillet from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, peanut butter, water, curry powder and remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Set aside.
When the pasta is done, drain well and add to the skillet with the veggies. Place over low heat, and add the reserved peanut-butter sauce. Toss to mix the pasta, veggies and sauce. Serve at once.
Cook’s note: We tested this recipe using sesame seeds from the McCormick’s Gourmet Spices line. Remember to wear rubber gloves when chopping jalapeno or else don’t touch your eyes for 24 hours. If you don’t have crunchy peanut butter, smooth peanut butter can be substituted along with a tablespoon of finely chopped dry-roasted peanuts for texture, if desired.
Approximate nutritional value per serving: 376 calories (33 percent from fat), 14 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 0 milligrams cholesterol, 12 grams protein, 54 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams dietary fiber, 70 milligrams sodium