Farm to Table: Spaghetti alla Cinese

Worthy of a magazine cover...
photo by eating partner, Delwin L. 
Legend has it that 13th Century traveler Marco Polo brought back what is now known as pasta from his travel to China. Whether that's a true story or a mere sensationalized tale, pasta is popular outside of just Italy. Spaghetti alla Cinese, or Chinese Spaghetti, is a homage to the legendary Chinese influence on these noodles. It marries whole wheat spaghetti with modernized Chinese flavors using sweet soy sauce, spring onion, and Japanese mustard. The result is a light yet satisfying meal appeals to the eyes and palate alike.

Freshly picked produce from the farmers market lend bright flavors to this dish. But feel free to substitute any of the veggies with whatever's available at the market. Julienned bok choy will work well when squash isn't available, and bean sprouts will be just fine in place of pea sprouts.This version is vegan-friendly but grilled chicken or shrimp may be added to nudge meat-lovers to try this dish.

Spaghetti alla Cinese 
Makes 8-10 servings
3 medium Mexican squash, julienned
3 medium yellow bell peppers, julienned
4 carrots, julienned
1/4 lb fresh shitake mushroom, julienned 
1/4 lb pea sprout, rinsed and drained
Scallions, or spring onion, chopped
Chinese cooking wine (optional)
Sesame oil 
Salt + pepper
1 pkg whole wheat spaghetti (in this recipe: Fresh & Easy Whole Wheat Omega-3 spaghetti)


1-2 tbsp Japanese mustard (it has a horseradish-like kick... use as much or as little depending on your taste) 
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp sugar (white, Turbinado, or brown will do)
3 tbsp hot water 
3 tbsp room temperature water
1 tsp corn starch 

  • Cook pasta according to directions, until al dente.
  • Prepare all vegetables.
  • Saute carrots, squash, and bell pepper, lightly salt and pepper
  • Add 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (or vegetable stock) to veggies and stir. Cover until veggies are cooked but still crunchy. 
  • Transfer veggies to dish, spread them out so they don't continue to be cooked by steam. 
  • In the same pan, saute mushrooms and add 1 tsp Chinese cooking wine (or vegetable stock). Cook until liquid has evaporated. 
  • Drain pasta.
  • Add cooked carrots, squash, and bell pepper back to pan with mushrooms. 
  • Add pasta to veggies, toss in pea sprouts.
  • With the heat on medium, add mustard soy sauce* and toss well. Finish off with drizzle of sesame oil. 
  • Sprinkle with chopped scallion when ready to serve. 
*To prepare mustard soy sauce:
  • Squeeze out mustard into small bowl. Add sugar and hot water. Whisk until everything is dissolved with no lumps. 
  • Add soy sauce and room temperature water. Combine well. 
  • Make sure mixture isn't hot. Add corn starch and whisk well.
    (Note: Dissolving corn starch in hot liquid will make lumps in sauce. No bueno.)

Total cost: $13 (inclusive of produce and pasta, pantry items like soy sauce and mustard didn't count) or $1.60 per serving. Another Dollar 'n Sense recipe that brings farm fresh produce to the table without breaking the bank!

Update: Spaghetti alla Cinese can be eaten hot or cold. According to Papa and the photographer for this post, the pasta tasted just as good right out of the fridge, especially in the summer-like weather SoCal has been experiencing!


suzyhomemaker said...

This recipe looks really good, and the sauce is simple as well. I am definitely going to have to try this.

Have you ever tried to make your own pasta? It's not too difficult. Might even bring the cost of the recipe down. Not that it needs to be cheaper. It already is a great value.

Elizabeth @HEALingFoodie said...

It was a simple recipe and I imagine it's fairly versatile in terms of the combination of veggies you can use.
I made raviolis once, and it was a trying effort. Without a pasta sheet maker, I'm not sure if I'm equipped to make pasta.

Suzanne said...

Looks great Elizabeth! Definitely going to try this one - easy and yummy, just my style!

MegSmith @ Cooking.In.College said...

Well I just discovered your blog and I could not be happier. I am a senior in a Dietetics program currently and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading ALL of your posts. I will most definitely be following you and coming back for more. I write a healthy vegetarian blog if you'd like to have a look I'd love to hear what you think!

These noodles look amazing!

P.S. I believe that is Westie in your picture and if it is bravo :-) I have one named Lucy, she is undisputedly the best dog I have ever met. I hope yours is the same (although I don't know how it wouldn't be!)

Elizabeth @HEALingFoodie said...

Thanks, Suzanne and Meg!

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