How to – Make your Own: Crunchy Ramen Noodle Salad

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Ahhh ramen noodles.

As cliche as it is, I fell in completely in love with them, followed by entirely sick of them in my first year of university. I bought cases and cases of chicken flavoured Mr. Noodle that year. Stuck in a dorm room, a kettle as my only cooking aide, it was the only way to get a hot meal unless you wanted haul your ass down to the student cafeteria. Which required getting dressed and looking ‘reasonable’.  Mr. Noodles it is.

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Ramen is big business these days.  There are some incredible ramen houses scattered around the city, and they be fancy. And soooo delicious. Definitely not the Mr. Noodles of the early 00s.

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But oh, that humble $0.39 package of ramen still has loads of potential. Especially when you toast it up with some almonds and throw ’em into a flavour packed salad.

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The toasting step will add an extra 10 minutes to the prep work here, but with little else to do, I wouldn’t recommend skipping it unless you really must. It adds SO much flavour. Good luck not snacking on the entire pan before it hits the salad bowl. Again, if you anticipate leftovers, reserve a handful of the ramen mixture and keep it in a separate container, tossing with the salad just before serving. It is a crunchy noodle salad after all.

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The asian sesame dressing for this salad reminds me of our Asian Orzo Salad, which has always been a potluck favourite.  This newbie is about to join the potluck line-up, though! The edamame is a perfect source of vegetarian protein. If you’ve got leftovers and want to take them for lunch, throw another handful of edamame in to boost the protein so it’s ‘meal worthy’. An alternative protein source like chicken, tofu or shrimp will do the job too.

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Toss it together and voila, GORgeous.

Eat alongside a piping hot bowl of Mr. Noodles.

Erin

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Crunchy Ramen Noodle Salad

Serves 6-8
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 20 minutes
Website Lightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients

  • 14 ounce bag of cabbage slaw
  • 1 cup frozen edamame (thawed)
  • 1 mango (peeled and chopped)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 2 - 2 ounce packages of ramen noodles (crumbled, flavour pack discarded)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds

Asian Sesame Dressing

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Note

This would be a terrific potluck salad. Bring the ramen/almonds in separate container and toss them in just before serving to maximize the crunch factor!

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spread ramen noodles and almonds onto baking sheet. Bake for 5-7 minutes, stirring halfway through, until lightly browned (watch carefully over the last minute or two to avoid burning them). Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine cabbage slaw, edamame, mango, green onions and once cooled, ramen noodles and almonds.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for Asian Sesame Dressing. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

How to: Make Your Own – Perfect Potluck Pasta Salad

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You want to know my super power?

Superior potluck skills.

Come now, don’t be jealy.

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It’s because of all the dang practice I get.  I work in a hospital setting on two separate hospital units, with two different teams. Once a week, each team organizes snacks for team rounds where team members rotate bringing the snack, and once or twice a month we also have a potluck over lunch for a special occasion or celebration.  Add to that, are the potlucks we occasionally have in the office I share with my dietitian buddies. So if my math is correct, that’s about 745 potlucks a year. Give or take.

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Not only do my contributions have to be crowd pleasers, I have to be crafty about the dishes I bring.  I cycle or take public transit to work, so they’ve gotta be compact. And jiggle proof.

This one is my no-brainer choice when I haven’t the time to be creative. 30 minutes and it’s done. Delicious.

The key to making any pasta salad a hit at a potluck is reserving some of the dressing to toss just before serving.  No one likes dry pasta. If you make your salad the night before and use all of the dressing, by the time you get to lunch the next day, all that precious moisture will be sucked up by the pasta.

I also love using a tiny pasta, like orzo, because it’s easy to serve onto a plate one-handed and a just a small spoonful will contain all the goodies.

Adding a head of chopped romaine (or iceberg – something hearty) will make it go a little farther and will lighten it up, too.  Keep the lettuce aside until just before serving, otherwise you’ll have soggy lettuce. And everyone will hate you. Jokes….sorta.

What do you all make for potlucks?! I’m looking for new inspiration. I still have 307 potlucks left this year.

Erin

Perfect Potluck Pasta Salad

Serves Makes aout 10 culls of salad
Prep time 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups orzo pasta
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes (halved or quartered)
  • 1 english cucumber (seeded and chopped)
  • 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper (seeded and chopped)
  • ⅓ cup very thinly sliced red onions
  • 200g feta cheese (crumbled)
  • 10 kalamata olives (sliced)
  • 1 head romaine lettuce (washed and chopped)

Dressing

  • ⅓ cup white wine vinegar
  • ⅔ cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon liquid honey
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Directions

1. Prepare orzo pasta in salted water per package directions or until al dente (approximate 7 minutes). Drain and rinse orzo with cold water to stop the cooking process.
2. Meanwhile, add all the ingredients for dressing to a small bowl and whisk until well combined.
3. Toss orzo, chopped vegetables, feta cheese and ¾ of the dressing in a large bowl (once combined this can stay in your refrigerator overnight).
4. Reserve ¼ of the dressing and chopped romaine to toss with prepared orzo just before serving.

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How To: Quickie Meal – Tortellini Salad with Mushrooms, Arugula, and Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

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One of my husband’s favourite foods is cheese tortellini. Second probably to the one and only KD, as I may have mentioned once or twice.

I on the other hand, could take or leave tortellini. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bowl of pasta just as much as the next person. But I usually find the store bought tortellini devoid of much cheese and very unsatisfying. In this salad however, lets just say it has made me a tortellini convert.

This cold salad is an update on your usual creamy pasta salads found at your summer bbqs. Savoury roasted mushrooms and crunchy arugula combine with a generous amount of parmesan cheese and a delicious tangy vinaigrette. And served cold, it is perfect for this crazy summer heat!

Tortellini lovers everywhere rejoice – this one’s for you!

Dara

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Tortellini Salad with Mushrooms, Arugula, and Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

Serves 4
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish, Salad
Website Adapted from The Vintage Mixer

Ingredients

  • 350 Grams cheese tortellini
  • 16oz sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 Tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 5oz arugula
  • 1/3-1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Lemon Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 lemon (zested and juiced)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Note

This salad stands great on it's own as a vegetarian main and is also a delicious side for bbq chicken or fish. You can substitute any other tortellini you like - pesto or spinach filled would be fantastic. This pasta salad holds up well and is still tasty the next day.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss mushrooms with olive oil, salt, and fresh thyme and place evenly on baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes until tender and set aside.
2. Cook tortellini according to package direction. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a large bowl with mushrooms, arugula, and parmesan cheese. Toss to combine. Add dressing and toss again to evenly coat.
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3. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.

 

How to: Recipe Makeover – Broccoli Slaw

I love a classic.  Books, movies, and mayonnaise laden salads included.

Honestly, I’m never really happy at a barbecue without a creamy potato or pasta salad, so let’s leave those alone for now.

This one’s a fun little update on the creamy bacon-y version of the classic broccoli salad.  Not to worry, I don’t completely ruin the fun.  There’s cheese, guys (and a little mayo still).

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Also, if you want to add crispy bacon or even better, crispy proscuitto, I will allow it. I’m generous like that.

Erin

Broccoli Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 Small head of broccoli (chopped into small florets)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 50g cheddar cheese (about ⅓ cup cut into small cubes or grated on the large side of box grater)
  • ⅓ cup toasted pecan pieces
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • salt and pepper to taste

Note

Toast pecans in frying pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes.

Directions

1. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.
2. Add dressing and toss to combine thoroughly. For best results, allow to sit for 1 hour before serving.

How To: Recipe Makeover – Vegetarian Cobb Salad

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I know this title may read like an oxymoron.

Bacon and chicken are two of the ingredients typically found in a Cobb salad, joining eggs, blue cheese, tomatoes, and avocados. But who says you can’t deviate from the original now and then? What would life be like if we were all the same, right?

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When I posted this picture of my unique cobb salad creation on instagram, one person commented this was definitely not a cobb salad. It may not be typical, but it is MY cobb salad, my VEGETARIAN cobb salad to boot!

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Instead of chicken and bacon, we’ve got black beans and sweet potatoes. Instead of blue cheese, creamy and tangy goat cheese. Instead of eggs, sweet beets. I’ve kept the usual avocado and tomatoes. And when all of these ingredients are arranged oh so prettily on top of a bed of romaine, a vegetarian cobb salad is born. Top it all of with an herby mustard vinaigrette and you’ve got one heck of a delicious summer meal.

So call it what you want – a vegetarian cobb salad, a fully loaded salad, a rainbow salad, or just an extremely tasty salad. Bottom line, make this salad.

Dara

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Vegetarian Cobb Salad

Serves 2-4
Dietary Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of romaine
  • 2 sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 1 can of sliced beets (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 large avocado (diced)
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese (crumbled)

Salad Dressing

  • 1 Tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 Tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/4 Tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Note

This may not be your typical cobb salad, but it is just as delicious. Feel free to sub the usual blue cheese for the goat cheese, or feta would also work well. Chickpeas or kidney beans can replace the black beans. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 425 and toss sweet potatoes with 1 tbsp olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, or until brown and tender. Set aside.
2. On a large plate place a layer of romaine lettuce. Top evenly in rows with sweet potatoes, tomatoes, black beans, avocado, goat cheese, and beets. Top with dressing or serve on the side for everyone to toss themselves.
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3. Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined.