Shrimp and Sesame Pasta

1 pound penne rigati pasta
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup lite soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup hot water
1 pound cooked medium shrimp
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Toasted sesame seeds

Cook pasta according to package directions. During last minute of cooking time add asparagus. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until pasta and asparagus are cool. Transfer to a large serving bowl and set aside. If preparing a day ahead, bring to room temperature before serving.
Meanwhile, combine peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Add hot water and stir until sauce is smooth, breaking up any small clumps.
Add shrimp, red pepper, green onions, and 1/4 cup of the cilantro to the pasta. Add sauce and toss to combine. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and sesame seeds.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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