It has been a very rainy and cold spring so far, which I’m OK with. I might be biased after spending a month in the sunshine but I do like rain. It makes our PNW’s nature lush, streets clean and air fresh. Rain means I can spend endless hours of cooking (and cleaning up) without worrying about standing in a hot kitchen for hours. In the evening, there is nothing better than curling up with a real book in bed (not the case right now with our brand new firm mattress that needs a break in period), watching a favourite TV show under the blanket or falling asleep listening to the rain.
I am literally looking at the rain through my pink sunglasses, I know. I prefer rain to snow with sunshine, what can I do?!
One of those rainy days I came up with healthy “ramen” noodles. I stole the idea from Alex and ran with it to make a healthy version of America’s favourite potluck/party salad – crispy ramen noodle salad with cabbage, chicken, avocado and homemade Asian dressing.
Alex grew up eating crispy pan fried noodles in Russia, and when he makes it for our boys, there is a lot of happy screams in the kitchen. In fact, everything Alex makes is exceptional, when and if he cooks.
Pasta comes out crispy, crunchy and even a bit chewy, but still with all the goodness of fiber and complex carbohydrates found in whole wheat spaghetti and not a ramen noodle package. And maybe it is also same cute and wavy?!
The oriental noodle dressing contains simple ingredients full of goodness – maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, toasted sesame oil and green onions. Traditionally, rice vinegar is used in making Asian vinaigrettes and sauces, but I went with an apple cider vinegar for added health benefits (can’t imagine my kids consuming it raw any other way) and my choice didn’t disappoint – Mr. Sweet married Ms. Tangy (ironic, I know) and they had a Boy Toasted and a Girl Zesty (ironic again, I get it). they lived happily ever after forever and ever in a 2 cup glass “house”.
Make sure to read the label and pick up a bottle of unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the “mother” (look for Simple Truth Organic at your local Kroger/Fred Meyer store) – looks like cobwebs at the bottom of the bottle (develops more with time, so do not think it went bad) that contain beneficial enzymes and bacteria. I always make sure to shake the bottle well before using.
Chicken is optional in a ramen noodle salad. We haven’t had chicken for a while until the day I made this salad and I went a bit overboard with it, being honest. I used 1.5 lbs but a bit under 1 lb would be perfect. We are trying to be mindful of animal products consumption due to health reasons, which as we can see can be a challenge.
You can skip chicken all together or replace with tofu.
If 1 cup of toasted sesame seeds might seem a wee bit too much for you, cut back. We like toasted nuts, seeds and their oils. I tried to use raw shredded cabbage and quickly pan fried in a skillet after chicken, and I think I prefer #2. Avocado was a last minute idea and it went well. Doesn’t avocado make everything better and isn’t it hard to argue that it makes every dish more nutritious?!
Bring this healthy ramen noodle chicken salad to your next office potluck and let it steal the show without a single packet of ramen. How is that for The Most Influential Employee of the Year Award?!
Be healthy and happy!
- 1/3 cup toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 bunch green onions, shopped
- 8 oz whole wheat spaghetti, broken in 3 thirds
- 1 cup sesame seeds, toasted*
- 4 medium avocados, diced
- 1 large carrot, coarsely grated
- 1 lb green cabbage, cut into strips**
- A bit under 1 lb chicken breasts, boneless & skinless (cut into thin cutlets)
- Cook pasta as per package instructions undercooking by a few minutes (al dente). While pasta is cooking, in a medium bowl, whisk Asian Vinaigrette Ingredients and set aside.
- Preheat large cast iron or ceramic non-stick skillet on medium heat and swirl a few tablespoons of Asian Vinaigrette to coat. Add cooked and drained spaghetti; cook for about 20 minutes or until majority is brown and crispy (70-80% is good enough), stirring occasionally. While doing so, get other ingredients ready: chop cabbage, dice avocado and grate carrots.
- Transfer crispy noodles to a large salad bowl. Toast sesame seeds if necessary and add to the bowl.
- Return skillet to a medium heat and swirl another tbsp of Asian Vinaigrette to coat. Add chicken and cook for 7 minutes per side or until browned. Transfer to a cutting board and slice. Add to the salad bowl.
- Add cabbage to a skillet and quickly pan fry for a few minutes, stirring constantly, so it gets coated in chicken juices and softens a bit. Transfer to a bowl. Pour remaining dressing on top and stir to mix.
*You can buy toasted sesame seeds or toast in a pan on medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. **I first cut cabbage into “steaks” (see pictures) and then into strips.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Kroger. The opinions and text are all mine.