bowl of noodles
Jodie Morgan's Ginger Sesame Noodles (Photo/Ed Anderson)

Noodles from France — and a Lower East Side caterer

In our home, pasta is the go-to dish. When we’re too tired to cook, we turn to pasta. No matter what shape — curly, long or wide — noodles are always satisfying and simple to make.

This simple lemon rosemary pasta is a dish Jeff started to make years ago in France, when he lived in an apartment located directly above a Niçois pasta producer. To make the pasta sauce, simply mix the ingredients in a bowl. No cooking required. And for those of you without access to a rosemary bush, look for fresh rosemary in your local produce department. Dried rosemary makes a reasonable substitute, but it won’t have quite the same vibrant flavor.

Decades ago, when we lived on New York’s Lower East Side, a local caterer made the most delicious sesame noodles. Jeff couldn’t get enough of these spicy noodles and would regularly ask for the recipe. But the caterer always refused to share it. Eventually, Jeff figured out how to make the noodles himself, and we have enjoyed them at home ever since.

Both of these recipes require minimum preparation yet deliver maximum pleasure! Typically we enjoy both as the main course.

These light-styled dishes pair beautifully with a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc or dry rosé.

bowl of noodles
Jodie Morgan’s Lemon Rosemary Pasta (Photo/Ed Anderson)

Lemon Rosemary Pasta

Serves 4 as main course, 6 as side dish

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup minced fresh rosemary, or 1 1/2 Tbs. dried rosemary
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 lb. dried linguini or other pasta
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, stir together the olive oil, lemon juice, rosemary and cheese. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water until the noodles are tender but still firm, about 10 minutes for dried pasta; 4 minutes for fresh pasta. Drain the pasta in a colander and shake dry. (Do not rinse with water.)

Add the pasta to the bowl with the sauce and toss to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper.

Ginger Sesame Noodles

1 lb. dried pasta noodles, such as linguini or fettuccine
3 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs. chile sesame oil
6 Tbs. soy sauce or tamari
1 clove garlic, crushed or minced
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
12 to 14 oz. firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
1 red pepper, seeds removed, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 green onions, white and green parts sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds

In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, cook the noodles until they are tender, about 10 minutes. While the noodles are cooking, combine the two sesame oils, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and allspice in a large serving bowl. Stir to blend evenly. Add the tofu and toss to coat with the sauce.

To toast the sesame seeds: Place them in a dry frying pan over medium-heat, stirring fairly constantly until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the seeds to a plate to cool.

When the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and rinse with cold water to bring to room temperature. Shake the noodles dry and add them to the tofu-sesame sauce, tossing until evenly coated. Add the red pepper and scallions and toss again. Add the sesame seeds and toss once more. Serve at room temperature in shallow bowls or on large plates.

Jodie Morgan

Jodie Morgan is a co-owner of Covenant Winery in Berkeley and has co-authored eight cookbooks with her husband, Jeff Morgan. Their latest is “The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table.”