I started making this in college, but it has all the pluses needed to keep it in regular rotation: it's cheap, nutritious, vegan(!), and carries well because it's best at room temperature. I'm not vegan or vegetarian myself, but I try eat somewhat sustainably: hence, lower on the food chain and, as the blog title suggests, seasonably and locally where possible. Added bonus: eating is cheaper, tastier, and better for you. Pretty good list of positives there.
This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine's Cold Sesame Noodle recipe, tweaked according to taste. Almost all the sauce ingredients come from the pantry, and you can augment the dish with pretty much whatever vegetables you have on hand.
Makes 6 servings.
1 pound very thin whole wheat spaghetti
1 red pepper
1 head broccoli
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. rice vinegar
2 tblsp. sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 or 4 slices jarred jalapeno peppers, finely minced
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, finely grated
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil (a chef-trained friend says: "It should taste like the ocean."). Cut the broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces; you can also peel the stem - this is the "heart" and is very tender. Cut the red pepper into thin strips (halved lengthwise) and set aside. When the water has reached a rolling boil drop in the broccoli for about 4 minutes - it should just turn bright green and still have some body when you bite into it. As soon as it's done, fish it out with a slotted spoon and drop the broccoli into a strainer or, better yet, a bowl of ice water. Return the water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions.
The sauce is complicated: mix everything else together and set aside.
Reserving about 1/4 c. in a separate container, gently toss the pasta with tongs to distribute the sauce. Use the reserved sauce to dress the vegetables and combine to serve.
Note: If not serving immediately, you may need to loosen the reserved sauce with a teaspoon or so of water before adding to the vegetables. Allow to come to room temperature before serving.