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Cold Noodles with Chile Oil and Miso-Tahini Sauce

Maybe it’s because I spent part of my childhood in backseat of our family’s Buick station wagon, driving back and forth from Denton to Fort Worth to eat Chinese food at Jimmie Dip’s, but Asian food has always been one of my top comfort foods. I love the balance of sweet, salty, acidic and spicy — it’s how I get my chile fix on a regular basis. Plus I’m no longer intimidated by making it at home. I learned awhile back it’s just like any other type of cuisine. Once you stock up on the key ingredients, putting together something new is pretty easy to do.

Like this cold noodle dinner I made the other night, with leftover chicken from GoGo Poulet (my new favorite rotisserie place — a bright red food truck that appears on market days each week), leftover roasted sweet potatoes, and a couple of handfuls of raw spinach. You can already see that there was little real cooking going on here. It was all about the assembly, which took maybe 5 minutes, tops.

Now that the temperatures in Paris are truly summerlike — it was 90 degrees yesterday and it looks like it’s going to be in that neighborhood for the next week or so — I’m looking for what I can make that’s cold, light, and on the healthy side.

And what doesn’t require too much time in the kitchen — and yes, I know this looks complicated, but I swear, it’s not. You might need to go to the market for a few things or to the Asian grocer, but once you’ve got everything you need, it comes together in a flash.

Cold Noodles with Chile Oil and Miso-Tahini Sauce

 Makes 1 serving (can be easily doubled)

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  1. Chop your sweet potato into 1/4-inch cubes, and put them on a cookie sheet. Add the olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss with your hands. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, flipping the potatoes over halfway through cooking so they brown evenly. Let the potatoes cool.

 Time saver: do this step in advance and refrigerate.

  1. Put a medium pot of water onto boil. Add the noodles and turn the heat down to medium. Let the noodles cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they’re cooked through but slightly al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse immediately with cold water.

Time saver: do this step in advance and refrigerate.

  1. When ready to assemble, simply toss the cold noodles with the Chile Oil and put in a bowl along with the cold chicken, sweet potatoes, spinach, cilantro, mint and lime. Sprinkle peanuts and chopped green onion on top of the whole shebang and spoon some of the Miso-Tahini sauce over it all, too. Eat with chopsticks. It’s more fun that way.

Chile Oil

Makes 1 cup

Adapted from a recipe in Bon Appetit

Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the onions brown, about 15 minutes. Let the oil cool in the pan, then transfer to a jar and refrigerate.

Miso-Tahini sauce

Makes about 1 cup

Put the tahini, miso and sesame oil in a glass measuring cup. Add as much warm water as needed — I used 1 to 2 tablespoons — to reach a spoonable consistency.