This delightfully quick and healthy Asian dinner packs a lot of flavor and nutrients into a quick and easy weeknight meal. I’ve slightly modified and brought together two recipes from a couple of different sources: Chicken Sate with Ponzu Sauce from Cooking Light served with Lighter Sesame Noodles from an old publication of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food (circa 2008). You can make the recipes as they appear in the originals, or you can go along with my version, which I think tastes better and is even easier to make.
When a recipe deems itself worthy of making again (and again), it gets printed and put into my beloved Kitchen Notebook (pictured left). My Kitchen Notebook is a collection of recipes and old menus that were big hits with the family. They are on everything from recipe cards to printed 8.5 x 11″ sheets to torn out magazine pages – all compiled into one 3-ring binder. I digress… more on the Kitchen Notebook later. Let’s get our Sesame Noodles and Ponzu Chicken cooking!
Quick & Healthy Sesame Noodles with Grilled Ponzu Chicken
You can easily make this a delicious vegetarian meal by omitting the chicken or substituting tofu in its place! For families with both omnivores and vegetarians, try serving the chicken on the side.
For the Sesame Noodles:
- Kosher Salt
- 12 ounces Thin Spaghetti (whole wheat or white fiber okay)
- 1 bunch of broccoli florets
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced with seeds and ribs removed
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 3 table spoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil (olive oil is okay if you don't have it or don't want to buy it)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
- Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
- Dry Roasted Peanuts or Cashews (optional)
For the Grilled Ponzu Chicken
- 1 lb. Chicken Tenderloins (boneless, skinless breasts sliced into tenderloin strips okay)
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (light is okay)
- 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup of fresh lime juice from about 2-3 limes
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (olive oil is okay)
- 2 garlic cloves, zested on a microplane
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- First, marinate your chicken for about 30 minutes in the Ponzu Marinade. Mix all the ingredients (except chicken) in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside about 3-4 tablespoons of marinade so that it's not contaminated with raw meat, then add the chicken to the bowl and cover for 30 minutes at room temperature. The chicken will only take about 5-7 minutes to grill since the pieces are relatively small. You can heat up your grill when you start cooking the vegetables (below) and put the chicken on when you start cooking the noodles.
For the Noodles:
- In a large skillet, saute onions in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus a sprinkle of salt and pepper on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.
- Add red bell pepper slices to onions, season with a little more salt and pepper, and saute for 3-4 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a 1 or 2 cup measuring cup, mix together your peanut butter, brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic with a small whisk. Set aside.
- In a large boiling pot of salted water (3 tsp. of kosher salt in the water is what I use to properly season my pasta while it cooks), cook spaghetti 3 minutes less than the box instructions for al dente. Add the broccoli to the pasta water and cook for 3 more minutes. DO NOT DRAIN!
- Turn off the heat to your pasta/broccoli and using a handled strainer or slotted spoon, work in batches to remove your spaghetti and broccoli from the hot water and transfer directly into the skillet with your onions and peppers.
- Add the peanut butter sauce + 1/2 to 1 cup of pasta water to your pasta and veggies and toss in the skillet until evenly coated. Add cilantro, optional red pepper flakes and extra nuts. Top with Grilled Ponzu Chicken (instructions follow).
For the Ponzu Chicken
- After marinating, use tongs to remove the chicken from the marinade and place on a heated grill rack, coated with cooking spray (we like Coconut Oil in a spray can). Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side until done. Slice or serve whole on top of a bed of Sesame Noodles. Use reserved ponzu sauce for dipping or drizzling on top of the dish.
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If you don’t already have a stainless steel handled strainer, I’m happy to recommend this affordable little tool from Amazon. I rarely dump my pasta in a colander these days. Instead, I use this handled strainer to transfer my hot pasta directly from the water into the sauce. The 7″ version tends to be a little difficult to get in and out of most pots, so I’d suggest going with the 5″ strainer spoon. You can thank me for better tasting pasta later. 🙂