Cooking Off Campus: Veg-O-Ramen

Greetings, collegiettes™! If you read my last article, you saw that I’ve recently begun to venture into the world of cooking for myself. I feel like it should be known that I’m not a COMPLETE novice in the kitchen—I’ve always enjoyed cooking  and baking, and since my dad is a professional chef I grew up around some excellent food (even if I wasn’t the one making it). Since moving into my own apartment, though, I’ve been trying to balance foods that I can make with foods that are quick and cheap and that don’t make me feel like I’m eating Spaghetti-O’s day after day. (Initially amusing but the fun wears off after a week or so). So I present to you my hilarious misadventures in the world of feeding myself consistently.
(This column will also consist of my making up a lot of ridiculous names for the dishes that I produce. Please bear with me.)

Over the last few weeks I’ve discovered the wonder of Ramen noodles. A package of what are essentially six meals for less than two dollars? Yes please. Of course, Ramen isn’t the healthiest—those tiny flavor packets are packed with sodium, and the noodles are arguably not man’s greatest contribution to a healthy diet. But since they are ‘healthier’ than a lot of fast food alternatives, I still enjoy incorporating them into my meals.

There really are only so many times you can eat those little flavor packets, though, and while I love pasta I don’t want to eat soup nearly as often. For that reason I’ve been experimenting with incorporating real ingredients into my ramen, using the noodles as a base.  Inspired by a favorite food blogger’s post about delicious Sunday pasta, I decided to step up my ramen for a slightly more nutritious and filling lunch.

I’ve been craving fruits and veggies—mainly because I haven’t been eating enough of them- refer to my limited budget and you’ll get a sense why—and have been trying to incorporate them into my meals as much as I can. I still had a bunch of tomatoes left from a taco expedition the week before and had bought a pack of mushrooms the last time I went to Wegman’s, so I decided to incorporate those into my meal.  After chopping up a tomato I sautéed it with a handful of mushrooms and some minced garlic in olive oil, arguably the greatest pasta accompaniment of all time. Once I drained the ramen and the vegetables were cooked, I mixed them all together in a bowl and dug in.

The result? Not too shabby! In retrospect my tomato to mushroom ratio was a little off—I would have rather had more mushrooms and less tomato, but I had a lot of tomato that I was afraid would go bad if not eaten quickly and wanted to make a dent in it. The olive oil/garlic mixture made the noodles delicious, though, and it was a filling dish that I would definitely make again. Below is the more detailed ‘recipe’ (I put recipe in quotes because I basically cooked ramen and threw veggies in it, but if you’re anything like me you’ll feel better with step-by-step instructions to refer to. See how much I care about you?)

1 Packet Ramen Noodles
1 small tomato
1 handful mushrooms
Olive Oil

Begin by setting the water to boil for your noodles, as per the instructions on the packet. While the water is heating coat the bottom of a small pan with olive oil. Heat on medium (adjust based on your own stove- the oil should be lightly bubbling) and add chopped tomato, mushrooms, and a small spoonful of garlic. Sautee until mushrooms are cooked through.

Once the water is boiling, add noodles (be careful not to accidentally drop the flavor packet into the water) and cook on high for three minutes. Once cooked, drain the pasta and add vegetable/garlic/oil mixture. Stir to mix and enjoy!

This would also be delicious with the addition of some protein, like chicken, to make it more filling. And feel free to add whatever vegetables you want—experimentation is your friend, and mistakes make great stories. I’ll be back next week with more tales of my kitchen adventures. Until then, go forth and conquer your kitchen!