Today we're playing with packaged ramen! Yes - that's the convenience food with an awful reputation. We're going to focus on the positives and talk about how to make (vegan) ramen better!
I don't know whether it was growing up in the 90's or because I didn't start cooking "real" food for myself til I was 19, but instant ramen will always hold a special place in my heart. It's also affordable, satisfying, and super convenient. And unlike most of the convenience foods from my childhood, there's a notable selection of widely available vegan options. Yay!
Another good thing about packaged ramen is that it's a decent way to load up on nutritious ingredients like vegetables, plant-based proteins, and healthy fats. When you want to share a bowl (like William and I tend to), or you happen to be super hungry, you can add your favourite vegetables, tofu, lentils and miso + soy sauce to extend the soup and seriously upgrade your meal.
Besides its practical uses, packaged ramen can also be kinda fun. The ease of preparation frees up a little extra time and energy for you to put towards customizing your ideal ramen bowl. Below we're gonna show you our favourite ramen add-ins and 4 fun ways we like to make packaged ramen better!
Ingredients for Better Packaged Ramen
Pan-fried extra-firm tofu, deep-fried tofu puffs (quartered), red lentils, toasted sesame seeds, (and shelled edamame - not pictured.)
Minced or thin-sliced garlic, minced or thin-sliced ginger, julienned baby spinach, thin-sliced sweet potato, thin-sliced zucchini, small broccoli florets, carrot "noodles" (made with a vegetable peeler), sliced mushrooms, chopped green onion, (shredded cabbage, julienned kale, bean sprouts, thin-sliced Creamer potatoes, and frozen peas - not pictured.)
Broth extenders & other add-ins
Miso, soy sauce, sriracha, (sesame oil, lime juice, nori, and shichimi togarashi - not pictured.)
4 Better Ramen Bowls
Here are 4 "recipes" for some of our favourite ramen combos. We've got our loaded bowl (our go-to when we're sharing), the bare essentials, and both of our personal favourite combinations.
Sweet potato + zucchini medallions, sliced mushrooms, carrot "noodles", julienned spinach, garlic, ginger, green onion, fried extra-firm tofu, toasted sesame seeds, white miso, and soy sauce. (Great for two)
- Bring water, seasoning pack (plus any other ramen add-ins included in package), and sweet potato to a boil over high heat. If you're adding lots of vegetables or making this for two, up the water by 1-2 cups and add a healthy dash of soy sauce and sriracha.
- Once broth is boiling, add ramen noodles, broccoli, carrot, zucchini, and mushrooms. Boil until noodles and vegetables are cooked.
- Add miso: Remove ¼ cup of hot ramen broth, mix it with miso (to break up clumpy bits) and then stir the broth + miso back into the soup.
- Top with julienned spinach, garlic, ginger, green onion, and sesame seeds.
Green onion, spinach, nori, and toasted sesame seeds.
- Cook ramen according to package instructions.
- Serve topped with strips of nori, chopped green onion, julienned spinach, and toasted sesame seeds.
Mushroom + Greens + Tofu Puffs Bowl
Sliced mushrooms, broccoli florets, green onion, nori, and quartered deep-fried tofu puffs. (William's favourite)
- Bring water and seasoning pack (plus any other ramen add-ins included in package) to a boil over high heat.
- Once broth is boiling, add ramen noodles, broccoli, and mushrooms. Boil until noodles and vegetables are cooked.
- Top with julienned spinach, green onion, nori, and quartered tofu puffs.
Sweet Potato Protein Bowl
Sweet potato, spinach, green onion, fried extra-firm tofu, red lentils, and toasted sesame seeds. (Brittany's favourite)
- Bring water, seasoning pack (plus any other ramen add-ins included in package), sweet potato, and red lentils to a boil over high heat.
- Once broth is boiling, add ramen noodles. Boil until noodles and vegetables are cooked.
- Top with julienned spinach, ginger, green onion, pan-fried extra-firm tofu, and sesame seeds.
Tips for Better Ramen
The key to fortifying packaged ramen with any of your favourite vegetables is thinly slicing each ingredients. Be sure to add slow cooking ingredients (like potatoes and lentils) as soon as you begin heating the water.
For a satisfying meal, add plenty of fibrous veggies, some plant-based protein (like tofu, lentils, edamame) and a dose of healthy fats like sesame oil or toasted sesame seeds.
Leftover ramen broth can be used as stock in other soup recipes, stir-fries, and sauces. I recently used leftover ramen broth to make peanut sauce and it was amazing! If you are going to save leftovers, make sure to separate the broth and the noodles into containers to stop all the broth from being absorbed too much.
And there you have it! 4 "recipes" and plenty of ideas for fortifying ramen to suit your preferences. Wanna make your own ramen? Try our Easy Vegan Shōyu Ramen recipe!