Due to learning to plan ahead, “Can Can” sales at Shop Rite, and maybe a dash of impulse, the canned and dry-good section of my kitchen cabinets is stocked. I justify most of them as emergency items, but I can’t really foresee a crisis occurring that can only be saved with the power of canned sauerkraut or evaporated milk. Until I’m actually forced to utilize my “fallout shelter” of products, I enjoy finding alternate uses for them in recipes.
One of the items we constantly buy, and actually eat as opposed to allowing to pile up, are Ramen noodles. Not only are they irresistibly cheap, they are extremely useful. In their intended form (that is, boiled noodes with a powdered flavor packet), they are a quick, small meal. The fact that this version almost tips the sodium scale has led me to utilize only the noodles (without the flavor packet) in various Asian dishes, adding vegetables and a protein to get more miles out of the recipe. Never did I think, though, that they would work perfectly as a salad topping.
Several years ago, I was drawn to an Asian cabbage slaw recipe from the archive on the Kraft Food’s website. Everything about it seemed right up the alley for what I was looking to bring to one of my best friend’s wedding shower: a cool, light salad with fresh ingredients and a ton of flavor. The Ramen noodle topping, though, was what prompted me to commit – strange, but intriguing, I wondered if the slaw was going to be a hit or a bust.
Crunchy Asian Slaw
16-ounce package of cabbage cole-slaw mix
10-ounce package of broccoli slaw mix
1 cup of honey roasted peanuts, chopped
1 cup of dried cranberries
½ cup of green onions, sliced
2 packages of Ramen noodles, broken up into small pieces (save flavor packet for another use)
¾ cup of Italian Salad Dressing
3 Tablespoons of soy sauce
½ cup sugar
Mix salad ingredients in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients in a small plastic container with a lid. Shake vigorously until sugar is dissolved and dressing is thick. Add to salad bowl and toss everything until well combined. Serve immediately.
Other than the interesting, crunchy Ramen topping, the other ingredient that had me puzzled was the combination of salad dressing with Italian flavors paired with soy sauce. The two didn’t seem to belong together at first, but once sweetened up with sugar it becomes the defining Asian taste. Over the years I have truly made this recipe my own with the addition of tart cranberries and honey roasted peanuts. Both add additional texture and complementary flavor dimensions, setting the dish apart from a traditional cabbage-heavy slaw. The uncooked pieces of Ramen simulate crunchy Chinese noodles with a more creative twist, and they wind up being the headlining aspect that makes this dish a hit.
This Crunchy Asian Slaw is a great dish to bring to summer barbecues or to even make at home and serve for dinner topped with grilled chicken. Expect people to ask you about the flavors they taste, what’s in the dressing, and what that interesting crunch is. Enjoy their surprising, yet impressed, glances after you tell them you found a new life for Ramen noodles. From then on, Ramen noodles won’t be one of those things that wait for you to use them; they’ll be a staple on your grocery list.