My first Tasty Kitchen adventure for this week was Asian Pasta Salad (click link to see full recipe). Now this is not normally a recipe I would pick out for myself. We like Chinese food (at least, the Americanized kind that you get in the mall), but we didn't grow up eating it and rarely make it. But, I decided to get out of my comfort zone this week and try something besides my typical meat-and-potatoes fare. Another reason I picked this recipe - I needed to use up some cabbage. I'm nothing if I'm not practical.
The ingredient list for this recipe is a bit daunting, but it really came together quite quickly. And I cheated. When the recipe called for shredded cabbage, I pulled out my bag of coleslaw mix - again, I'm practical. I also made a few modifications...
The recipe first calls for cooked pasta - no biggie. I followed that part exactly, using my favorite bowtie pasta. I love bowtie pasta...it's so festive. I didn't, however, mix the pasta with the 1/4 cups of sesame oil. There was already sesame oil in the dressing, so I decided to cut down on the fat.
The recipe tells you to mix the following into the pasta: snow peas, chicken, scallions, cilantro, carrots, and cabbage. Here's where the bulk of my modifications came into play.
I omitted the snow peas completely.
I did follow her suggestion to use a supermarket roasted chicken. I think if I were to do this again, though, I would just boil some chicken breasts and then shred them. It just seems easier in my books than boning a whole chicken...but that's just me.
I was a bit confused about the cilantro. She called for a bunch. Maybe I'm just ignorant, but does that mean a bunch (like a lot?), the bunch that the supermarket bundles it in, a handful? I'm not sure. But since my husband is a bit wary of cilantro, I just used a little. And I used my handy-dandy kitchen scissors to do my cilantro and scallion chopping for me. Again, lazy...or practical?
The recipe calls for grated cabbage and carrot, so I grated me a carrot and grabbed my bag of coleslaw.
But I didn't just dump these in with the pasta. Nope, I cooked them. I dumped these in a non-stick skillet with a very small amount of water and just stirred until they wilted.
At this point, my pasta and the add-ins were ready. I dumped them in a bowl..and then immediately dumped them in a larger bowl (this recipe took the biggest bowl I own!).
Now on to the dressing...
The dressing has a ton of ingredients.
I didn't make any changes to the dressing..I don't think. I'm not sure on the peanut butter (once again, I was confused here). She says don't use old-fashioned peanut butter. What exactly does that mean? Old fashioned? Maybe I'm too young to remember what peanut butter used to be like. Anyway, my peanut butter had the word "new" on the bottle since it's Jif's new Natural PB. If it says "new," it can't be old fashioned...right?
Despite all the ingredients, the dressing took less than five minutes to whip up. And then I poured it on...
and then I stirred...
and the final product looked beautiful!
My rating: I gave this recipe 4 mitts out of 5. It was a lot of ingredients, but it came together quite easily. It was easy to modify - I'm sure numerous other veggies could have gone in here with much success. It made a TON. And it had a good flavor. If I made this again, I would probably cut slightly down on the peanut butter and add more red pepper flakes - I think it could have used a bit more heat. All in all, though, I say it's worth a try.
Asian Pasta Salad (with my modifications)
- 1 lb. pasta, cooked
- 1 whole roasted deli chicken, shredded with skin and bones removed
- 2 bunches scallions, sliced
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1 bag coleslaw mix
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sesame oil
- 1 T. honey
- 1 t. fresh ginger, grated
- 1 t. garlic, minced
- 1 T. lime juice
- 1/4 t. crushed red pepper
In a large saucepan, cook veggies in a small amount of sesame oil until crisp-tender. Combine veggies, pasta, and chicken in a large bowl and toss to mix. In a blender, combine all dressing ingredients until smooth. Add dressing to salad and toss to mix.