Ramen Noodle SaladPoor ole ramen noodles get a bad rap, because like most pre-packaged products, they tend to have high levels of sodium and flavor enhancements like MSG, but... how many of you will confess to having at least a couple of packets of them hanging around in your pantry right now? Those little noodle soup packets must sell pretty well because they sure are plentiful in the stores. One reason is because they are pretty darned cheap. Raise your hand if you have had moments where you too lived off of them while a college student, or as a newly graduated first time out on your own young person.
I'll be the first to confess that I pretty much always have a couple of packets in my pantry because they are a quick and easy meal that still rates better nutritionally than a pass through the fast food burger or chicken joint. So yes, while of course I don't eat them everyday, I do enjoy them guilt-free on occasion. Personally, I prefer the Oriental, Pork and Shrimp flavored ones the best. After I boil the noodles, I pour off a lot of the water before stirring in the seasoning, and then my favorite thing to do is toss in some leftover protein to make them more of a substantial meal. A couple leaves of greens like spinach are a great add-in too.
Well, I noticed I had a couple packages of Beef Ramen Noodles languishing in the pantry that The Cajun picked up once when I asked him to grab some for me, and of course, he never ate them. I also had a package of broccoli slaw in the fridge that I had intended to use for slaw and never got around to, and some leftover grilled sirloin in the freezer. Sounds like the makings of nice, cool Beef Ramen Noodle Salad - a perfect hot weather meal!
This certainly isn't a recipe original to me - you'll find it all over the net - though I probably do use more dressing than most recipes since I prefer to marinate the salad overnight. An hour or so in the fridge will also do. The marinade softens the noodles and the vegetables nicely, while leaving them both with just a bit of a chew. If you want the ramen more crunchy instead, simply let the salad marinate on its own, and wait to add the noodles right before you plan to serve the salad. They are also very good if you give them a quick toast in the oven before adding them to the salad. Toss and serve.
By the way, if you are completely opposed to using the seasoning packets for this salad, you can still make it. Simply make up your own homemade seasoning using a product like Better Than Bouillon or simple bouillon, and a mixture of your favored seasonings.
Recipe: Ramen Noodle Salad©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive Time: 1 hour | Yield: About 6 servings
For the Ramen:
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of unsalted butter, melted
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 packages of ramen noodles, broken, any flavor (reserve flavor packet)
- 1/4 cup of sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup of vegetable oil or light olive oil
- 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup of red wine or apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of dry mustard
- 2 flavor packets from ramen noodles
- 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
- 1 (12 ounce) package of cabbage or broccoli slaw
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon of big flake Creole seasoning (like Zatarain's Big & Zesty), or to taste, optional
- 1 to 2 cups of cooked protein (beef, pork, chicken or shrimp, to match the flavor packet), optional
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix the ramen noodles, almonds and pecans; sprinkle with salt and pour melted butter on top and toss. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the olive oil, sugar, vinegar, dry mustard and flavor packets. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sesame oil; set aside. Add the broccoli slaw to a large serving bowl, add the ramen noodles to the slaw; add the green onion, Creole seasoning, and your choice of protein. Toss, pour the vinegar dressing over and toss well, taste, and season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer, stirring occasionally.
Cook's Notes: Chicken and beef are the most commonly used ramen noodles. Chicken flavor packets will make a lighter colored salad, beef a darker one. I used Zatarain's Big & Zesty Original Creole seasoning, pictured below. Can also omit or substitute your own homemade seasoning using Better Than Bouillon or bouillon cubes, and a mixture of seasonings, for the packages of ramen noodle seasoning.
Add-ins: Add in 1/4 cup of chopped snow peas or shelled edamame, sunflower seeds, peanuts, pecans, walnuts, or other nuts, 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic, 1/2 cup of dried fruit, 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce, or 1 small can of mandarin oranges, well drained.
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