A homemade sesame dressing with healthy chopped kale and Serrano pepper make this updated Asian Ramen Noodle Salad the best one yet.
Asian-inspired noodle salad is a flexible, easy-to-make recipe that can be modified to be as healthy or as indulgent as you like. Some prefer to swap the almonds (the protein in the recipe) for something heartier like chicken or beef, but for our purposes here we’re erring on the healthy side and sticking with almonds for the protein.
This ramen noodle salad features chopped kale, which is sturdier than ordinary lettuce; kale can last for days in the refrigerator without wilting. Kale does have a distinct flavor, but it’s tempered by the cilantro, onion, cabbage, and serrano pepper.
How do you make Ramen Noodle Salad?
Making Asian ramen noodle salad begins by making the dressing. Let it sit while you work on the salad itself. For best results with this recipe, toast the noodles before boiling them; crush the noodles with your hands, or by using a jar.
Place the dry noodles on a sheet pan along with some sliced almonds and sesame seeds then gently toss. Toast it all in the oven until it’s lightly browned, about 10 minutes or so.
Toss some chopped kale, shredded green cabbage, chopped green onions, thinly sliced serrano pepper, and a cup of chopped cilantro in a big bowl. Add the toasted noodle mixture, pour over the dressing, and toss it so the dressing coats everything.
Pop it in the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. It will keep well for a few days, making it a great make-ahead dish to keep on hand for easy lunches or dinners all week or to take to a potluck.
Asian Ramen Noodle Salad Hacks
A homemade sesame dressing is also key to maximum flavor. Our recipe includes only seven ingredients and is just as quick to make as the salad itself. When it comes to kale, many people find it more edible when chopped fine.
Large hunks of kale can be a bit challenging to get through, texture-wise. When boiling the ramen noodles it’s important not to overcook them (as with any noodle), so a three-minute boiling time is likely ideal.
And what to do with the flavor packet in the ramen you buy for this dish? You actually don’t have to buy an instant ramen packet if you have an Asian grocery nearby; you may be able to buy plain ramen noodles with no seasonings. Alternatively, you can buy Simply Asia brand ramen noodles without seasoning. This is not a plug for an advertiser, it’s just a hack I personally use.
If you do buy a package of instant ramen, you don’t need to use the flavor pack, but if you are feeling brave, you might try a LIGHT dusting of it over the cooked noodles if you want an extra kick. But most will set the ramen seasonings aside for this recipe, no doubt.
This recipe calls for green cabbage to be used but any cabbage can be used. A Chinese cabbage such as the widely available Napa cabbage is a great substitute. Red cabbage works as well but Savoy is best for cooking. Shredded cabbage blends will also work in a pinch.
Are Ramen Noodles bad for you?
In general, ramen noodles aren’t something you want to eat every day, and it pays to read the labels when selecting your ramen. Some brands are far healthier than others; Simply Asia ramen has the following ingredients:
- Wheat Flour
- Potassium Carbonate
- Sodium Carbonate
Compare that to the Sanyo Foods official site description of the ingredients list in Sapporo ramen noodles:
- Enriched wheat flour
- Palm oil (tbhq & citric acid added to protect flavor)
- Tapioca starch
- Soy sauce (water, wheat, soybeans, salt, sodium benzoate-preservative)
- Guar gum
- Sodium carbonate
- Potassium carbonate.
A longer ingredients list does not necessarily mean Sapporo ramen noodles are less healthy, but if you need to avoid salt, palm oil, or added starch, you may wish to compare multiple brands to see which ones have the most agreeable ingredients list.
Can Asian Ramen Noodle Salad be served as a main dish?
We mentioned adding a different protein instead of almonds at the start of this recipe. If you want to make this Asian-inspired noodle salad an entree, add the protein of your choice–a good quick option is to use shredded, store-bought rotisserie chicken. You could use leftover steak or even shrimp. If you want to keep this recipe vegan or vegetarian-friendly, try sauteeing some firm tofu in garlic, cumin, and maybe even a bit of ginger.
You’d be surprised how many things can be made with ramen noodles! Here’s a list of 21 recipes that use ramen noodles – there are main dishes, soups, and even instructions for how to make your own ramen noodles. There’s even a dessert recipe that looks incredible. They’re so inexpensive and last forever, so stock up and give one of these recipes a try!
For the salad:
- 2 cups chopped kale
- 3 cups finely shredded green cabbage
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 packages ramen noodles, seasoning discarded or saved for another use
- 1 1/2 cup sliced almonds, I use a 6-ounce bag which is about the same
- 1 handful sesame seeds, about a tablespoon or two
- 2 green onions, chopped
- 1 serrano pepper, very thinly sliced (optional)
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Truvia Baking Blend, or a tablespoon and a half of sugar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger, or to taste
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- Mix together all dressing ingredients. Set aside.
- While still in package, crush noodles into small pieces.
- Place crushed noodles on baking sheet along with almonds and sesame seeds; gently toss with your hands.
- Toast in oven until lightly browned, about 10 minutes or so. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- Place remaining salad ingredients into a large serving bowl and gently toss.
- Add ramen noodle mixture and toss again. Pour dressing over and thoroughly toss.
- Allow to sit for about an hour for flavors to blend, then serve.
Feel free to use Napa or Chinese cabbage in place of the green cabbage.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 588Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 38gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 920mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 9gSugar: 5gProtein: 13g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.