Ramen noodles should classify as required eating while you're in college, especially when you use them in these inspired and innovative recipes.
- Photo: Lee Harrelson; Styling Mindi Shapiro, Laura Martin
Use Your NoodlesInstant ramen noodles are dried or precooked noodles infused with oil, and usually sold with a packet of flavoring. Dried noodles are usually eaten after being cooked in boiling water for 2 to 5 minutes or eaten straight from the packet, while precooked noodles can be reheated.
These noodles are often popular with college students because they are budget-friendly and easy to prepare. The downside is that they're high in fat and sodium, but you can reduce the sodium by leaving out the seasoning packet.
Quickest Chicken Noodle SoupRamen noodles are incredibly versatile, and the first option is to use them for a quick and easy soup. Add cooked chicken, cabbage, carrots, and ramen noodles to a pot of boiling water, let it cook for 3 minutes and—voila!—comfort food ready for you to indulge in. Add ginger and a splash of soy sauce for an Asian-inspired version.
Mandarin Salad OrientalRamen noodles aren't limited to hot soups. Use the uncooked noodles as a crunchy addition to this cold salad. Start with chopped romaine, celery, and onion, and then toss with a tangy oil and vinegar dressing. Top with sweet almonds, toasted ramen noodles, and mandarin orange slices.
Thai Shrimp Noodle SoupRamen pairs well with a variety of proteins like chicken, beef, and in this recipe, shrimp. Start by building a rich broth flavored with green onions, garlic, ginger, basil, fish sauce, and chili sauce. Then add ramen noodles, shrimp, mushrooms, and bright lime zest to the pot and boil until cooked. You can find fish sauce in the Asian aisle of your grocery, or you can replace it with soy sauce.
Cranberry-Nectarine SaladThis salad combines the sweetness of nectarines and the tartness of cranberries for a refreshing side dish or as an entrée with chicken. Toss gourmet greens with a savory dressing of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and a little brown sugar for sweetness. Top with the fruit, chopped walnuts, and feta cheese.
Sirloin-Snap Pea Stir-fryBecause stir-frying uses very high heat to cook vegetables and protein, their full flavor and texture are retained. You also cut your time in the kitchen. Stir-fry thin slices of beef, scallions, garlic, and ginger, and then add beef broth and soy sauce to make a savory sauce for the dish. Toss together with sugar snap peas and ramen noodles for a filling meal.
Bok Choy SaladAlso known as Chinese cabbage, bok choy is a versatile leafy green. It can be boiled, stir-fried, steamed, or served raw. This recipe uses shredded bok choy as the base for a crunchy, sweet side dish. Start with bok choy and green onions, and toss with a sweet dressing made of cider vinegar, olive oil, sugar, and soy sauce. Top with toasted almonds, ramen noodles, and sunflower seeds.
Noodle Chicken SaladThis salad works well as a weeknight meal, and you can buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery to save time. Toasted ramen noodles, almonds, and sesame seeds add great flavor and crunch to this salad of chicken, lettuce, and green onions. Whisk together sesame oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, and light soy sauce for a sweet and savory dressing. Garnish with mandarin orange slices, celery, and mushrooms.