One thing I love about food is the way it can anchor us in moments of time in our lives. I remember the first time I ate this or smelled that and be instantly transported back to another time and place. This salad is that way for me. I can tell you the first time I ate a salad like this, and honestly the only time I ate a salad like this. Many years ago I worked as a recess monitor. What does that mean you are wondering? Well being a recess monitor meant I watched kids on the playground in an elementary school and helped enforce rules. I worked with students to resolve conflicts and helped keep the playground safe. This job may sound odd, but I was taking a job in a school to see if I wanted to be a teacher, which at the time I decided yes I did. I was not alone in this endeavor, there were three other women who worked with me as recess monitors. All of these women were moms and two of them had kids who were currently attending the school we worked at. This job was ideal for them because they worked while their children were in school and were free when their children were done. I remember one woman always brought food to share, homemade chicken soup and Irish soda bread I remember quite vividly. I worked at this job for most of the year, and loved the people I worked with and the students, but in the spring I was offered a full time position at another school and so I left my job. My final day working at this school the women made me a delicious lunch and one of them made a salad something like this. I remember the crunch of the crispy ramen and the sweet sesame dressing. As I was combing my mind for Asian recipes I wanted to recreate this instantly came to mind.
This salad is by no means a meal in and of itself although if you added a protein it probably would qualify.
To get started you will need to thinly slice 2 cups of napa cabbage, and 1 cup of purple cabbage. Next add your cabbage to the bowl along with a coleslaw mix, meaning the pre-shredded lettuces you buy at the grocery store, this should NOT have any dressing on it. Add to your bowl 1/3 of a cup of toasted almond slices. I typically buy mine at Trader Joe’s because the toasted slices are the same price as regular and they have a richer taste.
Meanwhile in a small bowl mix together 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 1/2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of reduced sodium soy sauce and 4 teaspoons of rice vinegar. Mix until well combined.
Also take one 3 oz package of ramen noodles and crush them. I usually do not open the plastic package and crush them inside so they do not end up flying all over my kitchen and create a larger mess for me to clean up.
When ready to serve, add the dressing to your salad and mix to combine. Then top with the crispy noodles and almonds for garnish. If you are taking this for a lunch I would bring the dressing and ramen on the side, so as to not allow the noodles and salad to get soggy.
-9 oz. coleslaw mix
-2 cups shredded napa cabbage
-1 cup shredded purple cabbage
-1/3 of a cup of toasted sliced almonds, plus extra for garnish
-3 oz ramen noodles, crushed
-2 tablespoons honey
-1 1/2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
-2 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
-4 teaspoons rice vinegar
- Combine coleslaw mix, cabbage and almonds in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, mix together honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar and mix until combined.
- When ready to serve, mix in dressing to the salad. Top with crushed noodles and extra almonds if desired and serve.
Crunch the noodles in the plastic package before opening it to avoid a mess.
Do not add dressing or noodles until ready to eat so you will not end up with a soggy salad or soggy noodles.