Cold food can be a saving grace. Chilled gazpacho and cold main-course salads are what we crave during the hottest weather. In this twist on sesame noodles, strands of zucchini and yellow summer squash are quickly cooked in boiling water so that they lose their rawness without sacrificing crunch--or overheating the kitchen. A spicy sesame sauce slicks the strands, and though it's best tossed with the squash just before eating, you could certainly make the two components ahead of time and let them chill in the fridge until you're ready to serve. If only we could join them.
Chilled Summer Squash and Sesame "Noodles"
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 10 minutes
2 medium yellow summer squash, ends trimmed
2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
¼ cup tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (use the edge of a teaspoon to scrape off the skin) and grated
¼ teaspoon chile oil or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Place one of the summer squash on a cutting board. Cut a thin lengthwise slice off one side, then turn the squash so the cut-side faces down (this helps balance the squash so it doesn't roll). Slice the squash lengthwise into ¼- to ⅛-inch-thick planks. Lay the planks flat on the cutting board and slice lengthwise into ¼- to ⅛-inch-thick strips. Place in a medium bowl and repeat with the remaining summer squash and zucchini.
2. Fill a bowl with ice and water and set aside. Fill a saucepan with water, add 1 tablespoon of the salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the squash strips and cook until limp, 1 to 1½ minutes. Use tongs to transfer the squash to the ice-water bath (save 2 tablespoons of cooking water and discard the rest). Once the squash is cool, drain in a colander and shake off any excess liquid, then turn the strips onto a kitchen-towel-lined plate and chill in the refrigerator.
3. In a small skillet set over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, shaking the pan often, until the sesame seeds are golden and fragrant, about 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a small plate and set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, the reserved cooking liquid from the squash, lemon juice, sesame oil, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, chile oil or cayenne pepper and the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt.
5. Remove the squash from the refrigerator and place in a medium bowl. Pour the sesame sauce over the squash and use tongs to gently toss to coat. Serve sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.