Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Ramen Noodle Crunchy Coleslaw

print recipe card posted in Soups, Salads, Sides and Sauces by Kathy Maister
Difficulty:

This coleslaw is FANTASTIC! I was really skeptical when my friend Mary Sutherland sent me this recipe, since I’ve never in my life bought instant Ramen noodles. But Mary, who is an excellent cook, has been making it for years and said her daughters (who are in college) love it! With a leap of faith, I purchased the ingredients and decided to give it a go.

(First, a note of caution: Instant Ramen noodles are most definitely not on the healthy end of the food chain. On occasion this is a tasty splurge, but I would caution anyone against a regular diet of Ramen noodles.)

Coleslaw is a salad made with either red or white shredded cabbage as its base. You can then add a variety of different vegetables like carrots, celery, onion, etc. A mayonnaise or vinaigrette dressing binds everything together. There are an infinite number of recipes available for every palate.

This is a very versatile recipe, as it can be eaten as a side dish, main dish, or just a snack.

There are five quick steps involved in making this recipe:

  1. Make the dressing
  2. Toast the sliced almonds and the sesame seeds
  3. Cut up the white part of four green onions
  4. Mix together the coleslaw, noodles, almonds, sesame seeds and green onion.
  5. Add the dressing and – that’s it!

Be sure to buy the “Chicken-flavor” Ramen noodles. To make things really simple, I purchased a pre-shredded bag of coleslaw mix (which is available in many supermarkets.)

If you prefer, you can easily shred your own head of cabbage to make the coleslaw. (Buy the white – not the red – cabbage for this recipe!) You will need approximately 6-8 cups of cabbage or coleslaw mix.

For those of you (like me!) who have never purchased Ramen noodles, it is a small “brick” of dried noodles that comes with a flavor packet. These noodles are not going to get cooked, but just broken up into the coleslaw. They add an amazing crunch to this dish.

Make the dressing first. You will need:

  • 2 Tablespoons of sugar (or sweetener such as Equal, Sweet & Low, or aspertame)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of oil
  • chicken flavor packet from the Ramen noodles

You could use a bowl and a whisk to mix everything together, but it is easier to just put everything in jar….

…and give it a good shake. Set it aside until the coleslaw gets made.

You can buy already toasted sesame seeds or toast them yourself.

To toast sesame seeds, put them in a dry fry pan. Set the temperature to medium high and don’t walk away from the stove. Keep the seeds moving in the pan by stirring them with a spoon or by shaking the pan. It takes just a minute or two for the seeds to go from untoasted…

…to toasted…

…to burnt in the blink of an eye! Once you start to smell the seeds toasting, they will only need a few more seconds to get nicely browned.

Toast the almonds the same way.

All toasted!

Wash four green onions and remove the green part. Slice the white part into small circles.

Put the cabbage (or coleslaw) in a large bowl. Add the almonds, green onions and sesame seeds.

With your hands, break up the (uncooked) Ramen noodles on top of the coleslaw. Gently mix everything together.

Just before serving add the dressing…

…and gently toss the salad.

Serve the salad immediately. If there are any leftovers, the Ramen noodles will eventually “soften” and the coleslaw will lose some of that crunchy texture.

This will easily make four large servings or 6 medium size servings.

Enjoy!

P.S.

For those of you interested in a few more elegant ways to cook with Ramen noodles,

Nika at Nikas Culinaria, made a beautiful Mexi-Cali Ramen served in mini-pumpkin bowls.

Elise at Simply Recipes made a more exotic coleslaw called Napa Cabbage Picnic Salad.

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How to Pit Cherries

posted in Fruits by Kathy Maister

My all-time, number-one, favorite fruit is the cherry! Cherries are in season from about late May until early August. “Bing” cherries are the most popular kind on the market. When you buy them, be sure that they are firm, a deep, dark red in color, and still have the stem attached.

Ranier cherries are yellow/pink-ish in color and are sweet and juicy, but don’t have quite the intense flavor of the Bing Cherries

Don’t wash cherries until you are ready to eat them. They should be stored in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. Cherries will keep for about a week in the refrigerator, but it’s better to buy small amounts and eat them within a day or two of purchase.

The best way to serve cherries is simple: rinse them in cool water, put them on a serving dish and dig in!

If you are adding them to a fruit salad, or putting them on top of cereal or ice cream you are going to want to remove the pit. Using a small paring knife cut around the cherry and split it in half. Pick out the pit with your fingers.

There is another way. I am not someone who likes to buy gadgets that are for doing just one thing. Storage space in just about everyone’s kitchen is very valuable, so why waste it on something that can’t perform multiple tasks? However, my cherry pitter breaks that rule!

The pitter, the strange-looking gadget pictured above next to the knife, supposedly can remove the pit from olives as well, but I have never been able to make it work with olives.

But it can remove the pit of a cherry in seconds!

Wash and remove the stem off the cherry. Place the cherry on the curved bit under the spike.

Squeeze the pitter so that the spike goes through the cherry, forcing out the pit.

Just that easy, just that quick!

There are a few things you need to be careful of, however.

If your cherries are really plump and juicy the spike may go around the pit instead of popping it out. Make double sure the pit actually did pop out!

Really juicy cherries sometimes get a bit messy, with juice squirting back at you. Be careful your shirt doesn’t get covered with cherry stains.

When you are through pitting all your cherries, rinse off the pitter and dry it with a dish towel.

There is a little lever on the base of the cherry pitter which will hold it closed and therefore take up less room in your kitchen drawer.

At the cost of about $12, these cherry pitters are not inexpensive, but if you love cherries, I think it’s a great investment. Cheers!

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Salad Greens From A to Z

posted in Vegetables and Beans by Emily Chapelle

It’s easy to get in a salad rut, turning to the same kind of lettuce every time. Why not go beyond iceberg, romaine, or leaf lettuce and try some more interesting options? Spring is the perfect time to experiment with salad greens, and this post will help you get acquainted with all that leafy stuff at the grocery store.

When you purchase or harvest lettuce, you should wash or rinse it, then store it wrapped in a cloth or paper towel, then in a plastic bag, in the crisper drawer. Store lettuce away from apples, pears and bananas. These fruits release ethylene, a ripening agent which will speed the decay of the lettuce. Because of its high water content, lettuce cannot be frozen or canned for long-term storage. It should always be eaten fresh, within about 10 days of purchase or harvest.

Nutritional content varies among lettuces and greens, though most are filled with Vitamin A and potassium. With the exception of iceberg, most varieties are also a good source of Vitamin C, iron and calcium. Lettuce is also a good source of dietary fiber.

When it comes to making a salad, try creating your own mix by tossing together at least three varieties. Here’s a basic formula:

  • Use a mild lettuce or green, like Boston, bibb or endive
  • Another should be a crisp lettuce or green, like romaine or cabbage
  • The third kind should be tart, peppery, or bitter greens, like arugula or radicchio

After your foundation of greens is mixed, you can add other goodies like carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Or you can venture into the more exciting world of salad-toppers, including edamame, beets, hearts of palm, sunflower seeds, toasted pine nuts, artichoke hearts, and more.

But wait a second. How do you tell arugula from endive? Mizuna from mesclun? Here’s a guide to recognizing and using the various greens in the produce section.

Arugula (pictured above)

Also known as: Rocket
Leaves are: Dark green and tender
Taste is: Bitter and peppery, with a slight mustard taste
Try this arugula salad with tomatoes and avocado.

Butterhead (pictured above)

Includes: Bibb and Boston Lettuce
Leaves are: Loosely formed heads of pale “wrinkled” leaves, smooth buttery texture
Taste is: Sweet and mild
Great on summer sandwiches!


Cabbage (pictured above)

Can be: green or red. Red is sometimes known as “purple cabbage”
Leaves are: crisp and crunchy
Taste is: bitter and sharp

Chard (pictured above)

Also known as: Swiss Chard
Leaves are: large, deep green, “wrinkled” leaves are always eaten cooked
Taste is: similar to beets, while the stalks are somewhat like celery
Try it in this Bean and Swiss Chard soup recipe


Dandelion Greens (pictured above)

Leaves are: tender, flat, with jagged edges
Taste is: bitter
Young dandelion leaves may be used in salads, but the larger ones taste best when they’re cooked

Endive (pictured above)

Leaves are: tender and smooth
Taste is: mild and bitter. The lighter the endive, the milder the flavor is.
Their spoon-like shape makes them perfect for dips or try filling them with crab or chicken salad.

Escarole

Leaves are: wide and frilly
Taste is: mild. This is a good one to add for “fluff” and texture

Frisée (pictured above)

Leaves are: long, wide, and curly. Usually green, but sometimes edged in red
Taste is: slightly peppery or nutty
Try it with blue cheese, walnut, and cranberry on a crostini.

Kale (pictured above)

Leaves are: broad and ruffled, ranging from deep green to a bluish purple
Taste is: very mild, with cabbage undertones
The site Veganyumyum has a delicious-sounding recipe for kale salad with orange-blackberry vinaigrette. Kale is also often served cooked, as in this recipe with cranberries and pine nuts.


Iceberg (pictured above)

Leaves are: tender, crisp, and pale-green
Taste is: mild and crunchy
Perfect for a make-ahead salad with peas


Leaf Lettuce (pictured above)

Leaves are: either red-tipped or dark green, ruffled and tender
Taste is: mild but interesting
Enjoy this lettuce on sandwiches or hamburgers


Mesclun (pictured above)

The term mesclun comes from the French word for a mix of tender young salad greens. You can buy this pre-mixed in bags, or make your own blend.
Leaves are: Varied, as a mesclun could include arugula, frisée, radicchio, dandelion greens, fresh herbs, and other salad greens
Taste is: Depends on the greens included, but is usually “bitter” or peppery
This is good to mix with a milder lettuce or spinach for a great tossed salad!
Try poached eggs with pancetta and tossed mesclun


Radicchio (pictured above)

Leaves are: crisp, deep red and white
Taste is: bitter and peppery
A honey-citrus dressing is the perfect foil for radicchio’s peppery bite


Romaine (pictured above)

Also known as: cos
Leaves are: long green leaves, with a crunchy center vein
Taste is: bitter and succulent
This lettuce is used in a Caesar salad, or great for a taco salad


Spinach (pictured above)

Leaves are: tender, dark green, and sometimes wrinkled, sometimes smooth
Taste is: slightly bitter and somewhat hearty

Tat Soi (pictured above)

Also known as: spoon cabbage or baby bok choy
Leaves are: spoon shaped
Taste is: peppery

Watercress (pictured above)

Leaves are: small and dark-green on long stems
Taste is: strong and peppery
This sounds amazing: avocado and watercress salad with a soy-apple dressing

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