Looking for an easy, balanced meal that's easy on the budget? Try this pasta recipe that's a complete meal in a bowl, with whole-grain carbohydrates from the pasta, protein from lean chicken breast, and plenty of fiber, vitamins, and minerals from the vegetables.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the salt, if using. Add the whole-wheat pasta and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water. Set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, reserved pasta cooking water, vinegar, honey, soy sauce, sesame seed oil, ginger, garlic, and red chile pepper flakes until smooth and creamy. Pour over the pasta. Toss the pasta with the chicken, cucumber, red bell pepper, and carrot. Top each serving with scallions and 1 teaspoon of the chopped peanuts. Serve warm or cold.