Think outside the ramen box for creative noodle dishes

Adding Parmesan cheese to ramen is a good idea.
Adding Parmesan cheese to ramen is a good idea. Special to the Sun Herald

Mention ramen noodles and many folks will think of college days or hard times. They are a very inexpensive quick meal. In fact, you can buy a case of 30 packages of Mama brand noodles at Lee Market on Division Street in Biloxi for around $10. That’s just a hair over 30 cents a meal — not bad, not bad at all.

If you have a history with ramen noodles, you might not relish the idea for revisiting them. It might be a memory that you are not fond of, but wait a minute. There can be more to ramen than a cup of boiling water and dried noodles and that scary little packet of dried seasoning (what is in that little packet?). Almost any sauce you would serve with any other noodles will do, from red sauce to Alfredo, so give these noodles another look.

I discovered ramen late in life, so I see nothing wrong with preparing the noodles as the directions suggest. I do like to fortify a bowl of ramen with a poached egg. You can use chicken stock and back off on the seasoning packet if you like.

Tomato and Cream Sauce

There is nothing wrong with serving ramen noodles with a more traditional Italian sauce.

1 package ramen per person

1 large can whole tomatoes

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 container Creole seasoning (the mix of fresh, pre-cut onion, celery and bell pepper, found in the produce section)

Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes

Sauté the vegetable mix in olive oil and season well with the Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Let it cook as long as you can, 5 minutes at the least, 20 at the most. Add the tomatoes and cream and simmer until it is as thick as you like it. It you want to make it spicy, add a can of Rotel.

Cook the ramen in boiling water, about a cup per serving, until done. Please do not overcook the ramen, just like other dried pastas, it should be just a bit al dente. Toss in the sauce, and serve at once.

Stock and Parmesan Ramen

This is a super-quick way to make a hearty bowl of ramen noodles.

1 package ramen per person

1 cup chicken stock per person

Grated Parmesan cheese

Chopped green onion

Simmering the ramen in stock fortifies the noodles, and will turn them a darker brown. Combine the seasoning packets, ramen and stock, and simmer until the stock has evaporated. Plate, top with Parmigiano Reggiano and a garnish of green onions and serve at once.

Poached Egg Ramen

This is another super-quick way to serve ramen that is delicious and pretty healthy.

1 package ramen per person

2 cups water or chicken stock per person

1 egg per person

Optional: chopped jalapeno, lime wedges, bean sprouts, cilantro or fresh basil, hot sauce

Combine the ramen, seasoning packets (leave them out if you want to reduce salt intake) and stock and simmer until done. Separately, poach one egg per person. Place the soup in individual bowls, add an egg and any of the optional garnishes that you like. Serve hot.