Craving nostalgia? Try this healthier, whole grain version of a classic cabbage recipe from my childhood: Ramen Noodle Salad.
Los Angeles, Manhattan… even Chicago… these are cities where I would expect to find my place in a line formed out the door, but Pittsburgh? Though a budding city we may be, there are still very few instances in which I would find myself queuing around a block. There are two exceptions: Millie’s Homemade ice cream and “the salt burger.” Millie’s is pretty self-explanatory (a very limited ice cream market + good ice cream + samples + people jam = line out the door), but the burger?
Not just any burger, the “Salt of the Earth Burger.” The name was not a nod to humility but a product of “Salt of the Earth” or just “Salt” for short, an upscale restaurant from Pittsburgh chef, Kevin Sousa. The industrial style, the location, and the creative menu shifted Pittsburgh’s food scene from an uppity, white tablecloth crowd to people in search of a true culinary experience: molecular gastronomy, artistic plating, an open kitchen concept, etc. And on that menu was “the salt burger,” a $10 whim of the chef. You had to agree to his terms, and you got what you got. That was the deal, but it was such a good deal. A perfectly pink, sous-vide burger that tasted like… a Big Mac.
Because, all of our nutrition education, all of our adult sensibilities, all of our foodie snobbery… all of that side, all we really want is the low brow food of our childhood. Except, we want it better, and that’s exactly where this salad comes into play. This Ramen Noodle Salad was a staple of my childhood, a regular hit at my mom’s dinner parties. It is an ode to the 1980s and 90s’ attempt at fusion food, a vague attempt at appreciating Asian cuisines- all of them, muddled into one, crowd-pleasing picnic contribution.
When I parted ways with Top Ramen, its questionably long list of ingredients and its chemical mix of “flavor,” I parted ways with this beloved salad, left with only the memories of mom’s dinner party menus (dramatic, I know). But when I discovered a Millet Brown Rice Ramen, a light shone from the heavens! I could reunite with a healthier version of the the Ramen Noodle Salad I knew and loved, and now, you can too. It’s also perfectly transportable for your end of summer beach picnics.
Here’s to nostalgia, friends!
Whole Grain Ramen Noodle Salad
About This Recipe: A healthier version of the classic Ramen Noodle Salad using organic Millet & Brown Rice Ramen and avocado oil for the dressing. I used black sesame seeds, but the white version will work just as well.
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup sesame seeds (white or black)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 large head cabbage, coarsely chopped
1-2 medium carrots, grated
2 “cakes” of Millet Brown Rice ramen noodles, crushed
1/2 cup organic avocado oil
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
Zest from 2 lemons
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
Salt & pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and pour a thin layer of sliced almonds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds. Place cookie sheet in the oven. Check every 5 minutes, and shake the tray so nuts/seeds will toast evenly. Take out of the oven once the sesame seeds or almonds start getting some light golden brown color. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, grated carrots, crushed ramen noodles and nuts/seeds.
For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a jar with a lid. With the lid on, shake to combine. Dress the salad and serve (or serve with dressing on the side).