My friend, Zoe made this for me maybe 20 years ago. I have loved it ever since. It is from The New Basics Cookbook by Julie Rosso & Sheila Lukins. They had a shop in Manhattan and wrote 2 other good cookbooks, The Silver Palate and The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. I still enjoy and use their books.
We love to wait for asparagus season and look forward to it every year. I know you can buy it almost year round but there is really something to be said for eating things in season.
I made the peanut sauce this winter and served it with broccoli and brown rice. Abigail prefers it with tofu over chicken.
My version of Sesame Chicken and Asparagus Pasta:
3/4 lb. linguine
3 large cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons peanut butter
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
6 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes
2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts, approximately 1 lb.
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 lb. organic asparagus
3 organic scallions, sliced thinly, white part only
1 small organic cucumber, peeled, quartered, seeded, and sliced (I use a melon baller to get the seeds out. Also works on butternut squash seeds.)
kosher salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Coat with olive oil. Roast until done, approximately 7 minutes per side. Let cool and cut into bite side pieces. Turn oven down to 350 degrees.
Fill large pasta pot with water. Add salt. Turn on high heat and bring to a boil.
Break off the ends of the asparagus.
Place the garlic, vinegar, brown sugar, peanut butter, red pepper flakes and soy sauce in a food processor. Blend for 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly add the sesame oil through the feed tube, and process until well blended.
When the water comes to a boil blanch asparagus for 1-3 minutes. Let cool and cut the asparagus into 1-inch lengths. Put into bowl with chicken, cucumbers and green onions. Toss with half the sauce.
Cook the linguine according to the instructions on the package. While it is cooking toast the sesame seeds for 3 minutes.
Drain the linguine and add to the bowl with other ingredients. Toss with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Toss to coat.
If you are doing part chicken and part tofu, do not add chicken to the other ingredients. Put chicken or tofu in individual bowls and put the rest of the dish on top. Stir together in the bowl.