FETTUCCINI MEETS ASIA? MADNESS? OR GENIUS?
You can argue about whether Marco Polo, during his long stay in China, “discovered” pasta and brought it back to Italy (seems like, uh, no, he didn’t). But you cannot argue that dried pasta in Italy helped keep people fed during the lean 1600s in the Italian boot. (Food made by people without much money in hand is usually the best. I don’t know why.) And it is true that the New World tomato became a huge hit in pasta dishes in the 1500s in Italy.
Still, Asia had its own versions of pasta, made not from wheat noodles (at least at first — there are some famous northern Chinese and modern Japanese dishes now that use wheat flour), but from pastes made of rice or mung beans.
Pasta, in fact, is a word that comes straight from the word for paste. That’s a party trivia factoid for ya.
You could certainly make this with noodles made from rice or mung bean, or the latest variations you find in stores made from soba, quinoa, or chickpeas.
But, for my money, ounce for ounce, fettuccini with this Asian-inspired peanut sauce, doubles the comfort level. A warm bowl of this and a glass of sparkling water, and I’m delirious. It actually is so comforting I want to eat it on the couch surrounded by pillows and my cats.
SESAME PEANUT SAUCE FOR PASTA
Start with well-salted water boiling for your pasta. (well-salted means: it tastes like the ocean)
While the water comes to a boil, In a blender, or bowl of a food processor, combine:
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cup tahini paste
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon chopped 1-1/2 inch knob of peeled fresh ginger
3 scallions roughly chopped
3 medium garlic clove
Juice from 1 whole lemon
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup honey
1/8-1/4 cup hot chile paste
Cook up some whole wheat fettuccini until it’s perfectly cooked (just a little bite left), and toss with sauce and barely cooked pea pods.
Top with crushed peanuts. black sesame seeds, and marigolds.
SHARING THIS AT THE TABLE
I love to share, and in sharing this at the table, you’ll want to offer some accompaniments.
Heres a cool, crunchy idea.
CUCUMBER, RADISH, RED ONION AND LIME ZEST WITH CHILI PEPPER OLIVE OIL DRIZZLE
A handfuls of baby cucumbers, and the same of the radish, slice them beautifully. Arrange them as you see fit. Note the lime gets sliced up, too, after you’ve zested them and sprinkled the zest over the dish.
You’ll also see the beautiful, ruby-colored Aleppo flake I dusted it with. You know me and my Aleppo flake.
Is this a salad? Or just something to spoon over your pasta as you see fit?
Doesn’t matter. This is a zero-fuss dish to eat.