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The Pick-Up: CSA Challenge Week 3: Broccoli bonanza

As the morning of our third-week pickup dawned, I pulled the Post-it notes off our refrigerator: We had done it. We'd successfully eaten everything from Week 2, except half a head of broccoli.

On to Week 3! This week's share included turnips, beets, radishes, onions, carrots, lettuce, raspberries — and more broccoli. A huge, giant, enormous head of broccoli. Clearly, I needed a broccoli dish to take advantage of this bounty.

I settled down with a stack of cookbooks and the pint of fresh raspberries, snacking as I rejected recipe after recipe. I found a lot of what I think of as "last generation" broccoli recipes — things that drowned the poor vegetable in Velveeta or creamy, heavy soups.

Finally, in Cooking Light's "The New Way to Cook Light: Fresh Food & Bold Flavors for Today's Home Cook" (Oxmoor House, 2012), I found a recipe for sesame noodles with broccoli, that not only showcased the vegetable but also called for carrots, so would use up another CSA item. (I also decided to make another round of roasted roots because they are so delicious any time of day and because that recipe would allow me to use everything else in Week 3 except the lettuce. Score!)

Off to Wegmans I went, because the sauce for the sesame noodles called for many items that were not already in my pantry: tahini (sesame seed paste), honey, chile paste with garlic (such as sambal oelek) and whole-wheat spaghetti. I will say, after an hour in Wegmans — and even after asking not one, not two, but three employees for help finding the tahini — I grumbled to myself: "This is why people don't make new recipes. Not because the recipes are hard but because shopping for the ingredients can be an exercise in frustration."

It didn't help that Wegmans was right in the middle of moving its "international foods" department, so some of the items were where they used to be, near the cheeses, and some were in their new location, on the other side of frozen foods and sports drinks. Note: The tahini turned out to be near the organic peanut butter in whatever they call their natural foods department. If you are the friendly but hapless Wegmans employee who was standing in that aisle and claimed to have never heard of tahini, please take note.

This turned out to be a great recipe and one that I'll make again now that I have a jar of sambal oelek in the fridge.

One other note: I tweaked this recipe a bit so I could use pantry items I already owned. For example, I used regular sesame oil, while Cooking Light suggested dark sesame oil.

And one final note: For those who count calories, each serving has 400.

Sesame noodles with broccoli

Serves 4

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon chile paste with garlic (sambal oelek)

2 garlic cloves, minced

For the noodles:

8 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti

5 cups broccoli florets (my one large head was almost exactly 5 cups)

2 cups matchstick-cut carrots

3/4 cup finely sliced green onions

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted (I did this by putting them over medium heat for a several minutes in a pan with a little olive oil)

1/8 teaspooon salt

Mix all 10 ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and then whisk together.

Cook spaghetti for 5 minutes in boiling water (no salt or oil in the water). Add broccoli to the pot and boil for 1 more minute, then add carrots and boil for another full minute. Drain the pasta and vegetables, then put them in a large bowl. Sprinkle onions, cilantro, sesame seeds and salt on top, then stir until combined.

Drizzle with sauce. Note: Pour on about half the sauce first and then taste. Add additional sauce to taste. I used only a little more than half the sauce, and my husband still thought this dish was a little too spicy. (Although he did give it an A-minus.)

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