Ever since I was a little girl, there has been one food that I’ve loved above all others: the almighty noodle, that versatile changeling of cuisines from Italy to Japan. They are perfect for everything from quick weeknight empty-cupboard meals solo to fancy I-cooked-all-day meals with friends and family.
As I explained in my story, The Almost Forestale & the Road to Green River, ramen in the back-country was one of my favorite foods. I loved opening that ten cent package of fried noodles, boiling it the requisite three minutes, draining all of the water (because I didn’t want soup, I wanted a noodle bowl, and I would have it), and mixing that MSG-laden packet of concentrated flavoring into a delicious mass of curly umami-laden bliss. I decided to recreate this feeling with two ramen recipes this week – one very similar to the back-country ramen I just described and the other is based on ingredients I like to put together for nutritious, but tasty, weeknight meals.
For the first recipe, I decided to slightly ‘upgrade’ the packaged ramen for a quick camp friendly ramen that is (a little bit) healthier in that it is less processed, and almost as simple to prepare. It uses my favorite vegetarian bouillon cubes to mimic the ramen flavor packet and adds a fried egg and chives for some extra flavor and protein.
The second recipe is a bit more complicated, as you need to make an intensely delicious pesto-like paste out of green vegetables, miso, and olive oil. This paste based on a favorite recipe from 101 Cookbooks and I am absolutely addicted to it. This ramen method also includes roasted vegetables and an easy egg technique that creates an amazingly jammy egg yolk. It’s still a quick meal to put together and the flavors are stellar.
Try one or try them both (perhaps with several bottles of prosecco if you are celebrating with your recipe testers and watch as your photos go from ‘that’s pretty good’ to ‘really?’ – not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything…) and make any changes that bring you happiness. Enjoy!
Ramen No. 1: Upgraded ‘Instant’ Ramen
A few notes:
- If you are camping, I recommend using dried ramen noodles, as they are easier to transport.
- You can use whatever kind of bouillon cubes you like – I prefer the Rapunzel brand with herbs. The typical serving is a half-cube, but you can use more or less depending on your personal taste and sodium allowances.
- The bouillon should dissolve fine in the hot noodles, but if you prefer you can mix it into a paste with a teaspoon or two of the ramen cooking water first.
- This dish comes together very quickly, so have everything ready when you begin.
12 oz. dried (or fresh) ramen noodles
2-3 vegetarian bouillon cubes (to taste)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
4 large eggs
2 T. chives, chopped
For serving (optional): hot sauce, tamari, sesame oil, etc.
- Bring a medium pot of water to boil for the noodles. Once boiling, salt it lightly, let return to a boil and add the noodles. Ramen cooks quickly, so be sure to set a timer. As soon as it is done, strain out most of the water (there should only be about a tablespoon or two left, unless you prefer a soupier ramen).
- In the meantime, add the oil to a non-stick skillet large enough to hold the eggs. Heat the oil until shimmering and then crack the eggs. Cook them until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny (or you can cook them more if you prefer).
- Add the bouillon cubes to the hot noodles and stir until the cubes dissolve and coat the noodles.
- Divide the noodles between four bowls, top with a fried egg, chopped chives (or whatever else you like), and enjoy!
Ramen No. 1: Fancy(ish) Weeknight Ramen
A few notes:
- The method for the pesto-like miso and greens paste I use here was inspired by one of my favorite recipes from Heidi Swanson’s fantastic vegetarian blog 101 Cookbooks. If you want to try her original recipe, you can find it here: Winter Green Miso Paste. Also, as my recipe makes more paste than needed, you can read Heidi’s tips for using up the rest.
- I used sorrel and garlic scapes in the paste, but if those are out of season you could substitute a small bunch of green chard (stems removed) for the sorrel and a bunch of scallions with a few cloves of garlic thrown in for the scapes.
- If you haven’t had a jammy egg yet, you are totally missing out. I’ve found that the method from Bon Appetit works perfectly. It’s summarized in the recipe, but you can find the full method here: Bon Appetit’s Jammy Eggs.
- You can use whatever veggies you prefer here (or even tofu for added protein). I recommend choosing the best seasonal vegetables that you can find – get to those farmer’s markets – meet your farmers! Different vegetables have different roasting times, so be sure to plan ahead.
- I use Lotus Food’s organic brown rice & millet ramen in this dish because it is tasty, high in protein, not fried like other ramen noodles, and sold in a giant package at Costco. However, regular ramen would be fine here as well.
For the Green Miso Pesto:
1 small bunch sorrel, rinsed and dried (about 2 cups packed)
8-10 garlic scapes, tough ends trimmed
1/3 cup miso paste (I use a brown rice miso paste, but white is fine)
1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Roasted Veg:
1 bunch sprouting broccoli (or Chinese broccoli or broccolini)
1-2 heads bok choy, end trimmed and leaves separated (or 4-8 heads baby bok choy, kept whole)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Salt & Pepper
For the Ramen Bowls:
4 bricks brown rice ramen (or regular ramen, approximately 12 oz.)
4 large eggs
For serving (optional): toasted sesame seeds, tamari or soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, hot sauce, pepper flakes, microgreens, etc.
- First make the paste by chopping the sorrel and scapes until pretty fine in a food processor. Next, add the miso paste and the 1/4 cup olive oil and process until the paste is bright green and resembles a thick pesto. If it is too thick, add a bit more oil. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Separate the sprouting broccoli stems and bok choy leaves and place them on a medium sheet pan (one with a rim, like a jelly roll pan – the veg can overlap slightly, but try to give each piece its own space). Drizzle with the olive oil and season with the crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Toss to coat and roast until tender and browning in some spots, about 20 minutes.
- Bring a medium pot of water to boil for the noodles. Once boiling, salt it lightly, let return to a boil and add the noodles. Ramen cooks quickly, so be sure to set a timer (also, the brown rice ramen does better with a bit of a stir in the middle of cooking). Again, as soon as it is done, strain out the water (unless you prefer a soupier ramen).
- In the meantime, make your eggs. First prepare an ice bath for the eggs to go into when they are done boiling. Then bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to just below medium and when it comes to temperature gently lower in the eggs. Set a timer for 6 minutes and 30 seconds.
- Once the egg timer goes off, immediately transfer the eggs (with a large spoon) to the ice bath to cool. Once the eggs are cool, carefully peel off their shells, but keep the eggs as intact as possible.
- By now the noodles should be done. Mix the hot ramen with about 1/2 cup of the miso pesto, adding more if needed.
- Now plate! Divide the sauced noodles between four bowls, top with the roasted veg, jammy egg, and any other toppings you would like (we used toasted seasame seeds, crushed red peppers, microgreens and a drizzle of tamari and toasted sesame oil). Devour.
Serves four…and sorry about the final picture, by this point my recipe testers had opened a few bottles of prosecco, so my photos got a bit lazier – and I was hungry. Next time I’ll hide the wine.