“I thought this ramen noodle salad recipe was exclusive to the mom community of suburban Massachusetts,” writes BA editor Hilary Cadigan, who grew up eating it at neighborhood BBQs and potluck picnics in the ’90s. “When my colleague Shilpa Uskokovic informed me that her mother made a near-identical version for family parties in Chennai, India, I realized true culinary genius knows no borders.”
A sort of mash-up of coleslaw and pasta salad, there are countless versions of the easy recipe out there with a range of ingredients. Some are main dishes with rotisserie chicken, green onions, edamame, and mandarin orange segments; others are side dishes with bags of coleslaw mix or broccoli slaw, sliced bell pepper, and sunflower seeds. No matter which route you take, the key is the crispy and crunchy ramen noodles—yes, the kind college kids microwave by the boatload across the world. Instant ramen is cooked and freeze-dried, meaning it’s perfectly fine to eat right out of the package. Spring for good quality ramen here (such as Shin brand), as it’ll make the difference between deliciously crunchy or rock-hard ribbons.
Save the ramen flavor packet for the dressing, which will make more than you need. (You can halve the dressing ingredients, but we prefer the leftovers). You’ll want to toss ramen salad together at the last moment, but you can shred the cabbage and toast the slivered almonds a day ahead of time, and the dressing can be made up to a week in advance.