Dressing Up Instant Noodles and Other Quick Fixes

by Jane Wangersky | March 13th, 2015 | Cooking Basics

ramen noodles (400x400)Instant noodles or ramen are seen as a kind of low-class version of pasta, which is a fairly cheap food to begin with. And, like most lowbrow foods, they’re loved by millions. They’re quick, easy, warming and filling, and there’s plenty of flavor, mostly thanks to MSG, in that little soup packet.

And there are plenty of things you can do with them besides just the typical boil and stir. (Obviously I’m talking about the flat pack noodles, not the ones that come in foam cups. There’s not much to be done with those.) Like:

  • Add frozen or fresh vegetables, or canned diced tomatoes, to the cooking water to bring up the nutritional value. (Let’s face it, the noodles don’t have much.)
  • Beat an egg and stir it into the hot soup for protein.
  • Add the noodles to a skillet dinner — they’ll cook quickly if there’s liquid in the pan and if you break them up small enough. (It’s because they’re fried; sorry to be the one to break it to you. Some instant noodles are dried with hot air, but it’s less common.)
  • Sprinkle them on top of a salad. Unlike Western pasta, they taste fine raw. In fact . . .
  • Eat them raw as a crunchy snack. They’re no worse for you than most chips, and you can save the soup packet to make plain soup or to flavor something else.

This has nothing to do with noodles, but it’s too good not to share as soon as possible: You can make a whole lot of hash browns by baking (or microwaving) potatoes, grating them, spreading thinly on greased baking sheets, and broiling till the top browns.

Here’s another one of my mistakes you can learn from. Two, in fact. I was making pizza dough, but forgot to start the bread machine. The dough cycle runs two hours, but by the time I saw what I hadn’t done, I had only about one hour left. So I turned it on, hoped for the best, and took the dough out when it still supposedly had almost an hour left to rise. I had (luckily) used quick yeast and the dough had risen a moderate amount. It was the right texture, so I rolled it out and made pizzas. However, they baked much more quickly on the bottom, which probably had something to do with the short rising. So I turned the oven down low (250) and put one pizza in the broiler compartment under the oven. The top of it toasted slowly while the other pizza just stayed warm. After a few minutes, I switched them around, and by then it was nearly time for dinner.

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