In SELF’s franchise The Meal I Eat When I’m Feeling…, we talk with chefs, celebs, athletes, and people in the culinary space about the specific foods or meals they turn to amid certain emotions—and how eating their favorites plays a vital role in their self-care.
When Food Network star Molly Yeh left Brooklyn in 2014, she was looking to reconnect with rural life, she tells SELF. And she fully embraced it after she established a home on a Midwestern farm with her family. When she’s not on set baking chocolate-hazelnut mooncakes or developing quick, fun meal kit recipes with Blue Apron, she’s taking advantage of easy access to seasonal, locally sourced ingredients and spending time with her kiddos in the kitchen.
But continually coming up with creative dishes can be challenging due to her packed schedule, even in an idyllic location on the North Dakota–Minnesota border. The cookbook author is busy: Yeh is raising a one- and a four-year-old, taking care of a farm, and dropping new recipes on her blog. “Now that I have two little kids, I am all about convenience,” she says.
Luckily, though, she has a deep well of insights to inform her culinary adventures—and keep them hassle-free too. Yeh typically taps into her family’s heritage to get inspired in the kitchen, she says. The Girl Meets Farm host is Chinese and Jewish, and her husband, Nick, is Norwegian, so she leans on that combo to fuel her recipe brainstorms.
One such dish is her take on sesame noodles, which she describes as both nostalgic and a time-saver. Yeh’s sesame noodles come together in as little as 15 minutes and muster up memories from her college days. When she flew back to her hometown of Glenview, Illinois, from Juilliard during her breaks, Yeh’s mom would greet her at the airport with a batch of homemade sesame noodles, she says. The simple dish was her mom’s labor of love—in pasta form—and it filled her with so much happiness.
Now, when she’s craving that same taste, she whips up a batch of her own. Yeh keeps the base the same as an ode to her mom, but doesn’t shy away from exciting add-ins that make this meal shine. “I’m powerless against them,” Yeh says. “I could just shovel them into my mouth at any time of day, and I get that happy, nostalgic feeling.”
Yeh spoke with SELF to share why sesame noodles are her go-to for a quick meal, how she enjoys them for the ultimate mood boost, and how you incorporate them into your own rotation too.
1. Seek out seasonal vegetables.
One cool thing about this meal is how adaptable it is to locally sourced ingredients. “I am super inspired by the seasons and what’s fresh; food tastes better when it’s in season,” Yeh says.
The dish’s sesame oil base provides a rich, nutty flavor, which pairs well with many different kinds of veggies. Yeh recommends throwing in some brussels sprouts during the winter, and broccoli, leeks, bok choy, or zucchini to liven up the noodles in the summer.