Ramen Noodle SaladPoor ole ramen noodles - they 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?
I'll be the first because I pretty much always have a couple of packets in my pantry. 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.
There must be quite a few of us who do, because those little noodle soup packets 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.
For a quickie meal, I like 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.
This salad certainly isn't a recipe unique to me - you'll find it all over the internet and in pretty much every church and community cookbook in existence, because it's a definite potluck favorite.
I do a few of my own personal twists though, first, toasting the noodles the same way I do with my Anything Salad with some butter and nuts, adding sesame seeds. I also like to let the salad marinate an hour or so, or even overnight in the fridge, with only half of the toasted noodles added, so the flavors mingle, and the noodles get softened and flavored by the marinade, along with the cabbage. The other half of the crunchy noodles I toss in just before serving and then garnish the top with another pinch of them, along with some extra green onion. I absolutely adore this salad!
If you are completely opposed to using the seasoning packets for this salad, you can simply make up your own homemade version using simple bouillon or a product like Better Than Bouillon and a mixture of your favored seasonings. Keep in mind sodium in bouillon before adding salt and pepper!
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Recipe: Ramen Noodle Salad©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Inactive Time: 1 hour | Yield: About 10-12 servings
For the Ramen:
- 2 packages Oriental flavor ramen noodles, broken (reserve flavor packet)
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 cup vegetable, canola or light olive oil
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar, or to taste
- 1/2 cup rice wine, red wine or apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of dry mustard
- 2 flavor packets from ramen noodles
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 (14 ounce) packages cabbage slaw
- 3 green onions, sliced, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning, or to taste, optional
- 1-1/2 cups of cooked protein (beef, pork, chicken or shrimp, to match the flavor packet), optional
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or 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, for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, stir in sesame seeds and return to oven until browned, about 5 minutes longer. Let cool; set aside a tablespoon for garnish.
In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the oil, sugar, vinegar, dry mustard and flavor packets. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the sesame oil and soy sauce; set aside. Add the slaw to a large serving or storage bowl, add half of the ramen noodles to the slaw; add the green onion, Creole/Cajun seasoning, and your choice of protein, if using. Toss, pour the vinegar dressing over the salad, toss well, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer, stirring occasionally. Before serving, toss in the other half of the noodles, taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, only if needed; garnish with additional sliced green onion and the reserved tablespoon of noodles.
Cook's Notes: Recipe may successfully be halved. I prefer the Oriental flavored ramen noodles for this salad, however I have used several other different flavors. May also be made with broccoli slaw.
Add-ins: Add in 1/4 cup of chopped snow peas or shelled edamame, sunflower seeds, peanuts, walnuts, or other nuts, 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic, 1/2 cup of dried cranberries or other fruit or 1 small can of mandarin oranges, well drained, are just a few suggestions.
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