Among the selling points for these noodles as a brown-bag lunch: They’re at their best when served cold, they keep well, and, depending on how many vegetables you mix in, they can serve as either a hearty meal or a light snack.

The sauce is the key. It combines several pantry staples to create a nutty, bright, creamy, spicy coating for noodles and thinly sliced carrot, cucumber, bell pepper and scallions — or whatever other veggies you have in the fridge.

Many sesame noodle recipes call for fresh or frozen Chinese egg noodles and sesame paste. This adaptation substitutes dried udon noodles and tahini, which may be more easy to find at your supermarket.

If you would like to bulk the recipe up, add boneless, skinless chicken breast that has been poached and shredded, or add cubed pan-fried tofu.

Adjust the heat to your liking by adding or subtracting some of the chili-garlic sauce.

Recipe note: Be sure to quickly rinse the noodles after cooking and then toss them with a splash of sesame oil to keep them from clumping together before you add the sauce and vegetables.

The assembled dish can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

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  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound dried udon noodles (may substitute Chinese egg noodles or whole-wheat linguine)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon peeled fresh ginger root, finely grated
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed well and cut into 2-inch long matchsticks
  • 1/2 English cucumber, seeded and cut into 2-inch long matchsticks
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin 2-inch-long strips
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts (or 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds)

Step 1

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the noodles and cook for 8 minutes, or until just tender. Drain the noodles, rinse with cold water, drain again and transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil and toss to coat.

Step 2

In a medium bowl, whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the rice vinegar, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, ginger and chili-garlic sauce.

Step 3

Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss to coat. Add the carrot, cucumber and bell pepper and toss to mix it together.

Step 4

Sprinkle the scallions and peanuts (or toasted sesame seeds) on top before serving.


Calories: 410; Total Fat: 14 g; Saturated Fat: 2 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 370 mg; Carbohydrates: 63 g; Dietary Fiber: 3 g; Sugars: 4 g; Protein: 10 g.

Based on a recipe from the New York Times.

Tested by Matt Brooks; email questions to

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