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When it comes to Kool & The Gang, I’m more of a “Jungle Boogie” or “Hollywood Swinging” sort of fan. The theme song for this recipe is a bit too novelty for my tastes. I mean, come on, “I am the Genie Of Funk, everybody gets down!” REALLY!?! The lyrics are laughable to the point of parody but damn if it doesn’t have that solid Kool & The Gang funk bed. Despite being the title track for their eighth album, “Open Sesame” really didn’t see much success until its appearance on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack.
The 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Fever found me back in disco heaven listening to one of the best soundtracks in the history of collecting a bunch of pop songs for a soundtrack. Suddenly, Track 11 started playing and a light bulb went on in my menu planning head:
“Open Sesame Noodles”
Sure, the song is about the Ali Baba “Open Sesame” myth applied to disco dance floor love, but damn if it doesn’t make a catchy menu item name. Thus this dish, which I previously called “Cold Sesame Noodles,” was reborn with a disco spin.
This recipe is the pinnacle of “anyone can do it.” If you can boil water and run a blender, you can make a delicious meal in a few minutes (though it’s better resting overnight) that tastes better and is WAY cheaper than your local take-out joint. While there are a dozen types of pasta you could use for this, I’ve found regular everyday spaghetti works best. Not thin – not fettuccine – not angel hair – just plain everyday spaghetti. Cook it al dente as it will get a bit more tender when soaking in the sauce. I’ve not tried this recipe with whole wheat or gluten-free spaghetti, but I would guess if that’s your thing they should work fine.
The other key element of this dish is the peanut butter. There is no actual “sesame” in “sesame noodles” except for that sprinkle of seeds on top. It’s the peanut butter that gives this it’s take-out style flavor punch. I’ve gone through a few different styles over the course of making this recipe. Technically, you can use chunky peanut butter but it adds a strange texture to the finished dish. It’s like if you added a crushed peanut topping, but you can’t see the peanut pieces and they are somewhat grainy.
Therefore, it’s best to stick with smooth peanut butter. It’s up to you how expensive you want to make this dish. From experience, I did not find any major taste improvement using a small batch artisan peanut butter or freshly made. I tend to use Skippy or JIF Natural which is a bit oilier. You actually want a slightly oily butter to help with coating the noodles. The latest batch (pictured above) used Skippy Natural with Honey and I really dig the additional sweetness.
I prefer this cold, but my wife chooses to heat it up. This is a vegan recipe and it’s easy to keep it that way. Top with a little chili sauce, some scallions, and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and you’re good to go. Craving a bit of protein? Add some seitan or chicken to the bowl. Need a quick breakfast? Put a fried egg on it!
However you top it, this recipe is The Fridge Genie granting your wish for a hefty amount of cheap fridge ready meals!
OPEN SESAME NOODLES
Spaghetti, peanut sauce, spicy chili crisp or sambal oelek, scallions, and sesame seeds (add chicken if you’re fancy)
Makes 8-10 servings
1 pound dried spaghetti noodles
2/3 cup water
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
3 teaspoons Sambal Oelek
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
Prepare noodles according to the package. Drain when done.
Place all of the sauce ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Place the pasta in a large bowl. Pour the peanut sauce over the noodles and toss to coat thoroughly. It will be very runny and will look like you made way too much sauce. Not to worry. Once it has rested in the refrigerator, the sauce will set up nicely.
Cover and refrigerate at least one hour, even better overnight. Toss noodles again prior to serving. Top with your choice of toppings.