On a recent trip to the Natural Living Center in Bangor for non-melting snacks to take to day camp, my son announced he wanted to try ramen noodles.
He totally caught me off guard. And in that moment, I wondered if I’ve failed as a mother for never introducing my kids to ramen. I mean, who hasn’t ever eaten ramen?
(To be fair, they have had noodles from noodle bars, which are ramen-like. But it’s not the same.)
Ramen noodles were a pantry staple for quick lunches when I was a kid. They were something I ate drained and seasoned with a little extra soy sauce in college because they were so inexpensive. And maybe post-college too.
But ramen as something special? Nah … except then I realized my son’s never torn into a ramen package. He hasn’t wound the curly noodles around a fork and tried not to splash himself with the liquid. And he’s never tried to figure out how to season it better. To him, it’s something exotic he read about in a book (seriously, that’s what piqued his interest. It’s kind of awesome).
So we bought some. In the ultimate of ironies, he didn’t choose chicken flavor or beef … No, my son found an unseasoned package. He can’t wait to try plain ramen noodles. I can’t help but smile at that.
Of course, there’s no reason not to give ramen a boost with better flavors. And that’s what this salad does.
Mostly veggies with a bit of steak and some ramen noodles, this salad is all about balance. It’s tangy too, thanks to the fresh lemon juice.
But first, you start with the veggies.
Juicy bits of cucumbers, crisp peppers, sweet tomatoes and corn and savory shallots are mixed together first. These veggies — most, if not all, of which are available at farmers markets right now — comprise the bulk of the salad.
They’re drizzled with fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Seasoned with salt and pepper. Tossed again. Then comes the steak. I season mine simply with salt and pepper and pan fry it to desired doneness. It would be awesome grilled too, but I don’t have a grill at home. Let that steak rest — you should always let steak rest for about 10 minutes so it retains its juices better and doesn’t get dry — and then slice it thinly.
Finally, mix the veggies, steak and just-cooked ramen noodles together. You only want the noodles — discard the flavor packets from any flavor and just cook the noodles.
Let this chopped salad rest for a few minutes and then serve it warm or chilled. it’s good both ways.
P.S. If you love farmer’s markets like I do, then you’ll want to get in on Maine Farmers’ Market Snapshot Week, which is how Maine farmers’ markets are celebrating National Farmers’ Market Week from August 7 to 13. Leigh Hallett, executive director of the Maine Federation of Farmers’ Markets, tells me that farmers’ markets around the state will be participating with different special events that could include music, children’s activities, contests and more. Participating markets will also be encouraging shoppers to share their market stories through photos, memories and more.
- 1 cucumber, thinly sliced and quartered
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 ear corn, cooked
- ⅓ lb steak, cooked and thinly sliced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1.8 oz package ramen noodles, prepared (noodles only)
- In a large bowl, add the cucumber, green peppers, tomatoes and shallot. Cut the kernels from the corn cob and add to the bowl (discard cob). Stir well to combine.
- Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Add the steak slices and cooked ramen noodles and toss again.
- Let sit for five minutes, then toss again. Serve immediately or chill until ready to enjoy.