If my food service philosophy could be summed up in one quick mantra, it’s that I’m here to serve, I’m not here to judge. Craving dessert after breakfast? Get it. Like mayonnaise on your peanut butter sandwich? Do it. Prefer sweet pickles over dill? I disagree wholeheartedly, but you do you. In that vein, when I have dinner parties, am bringing food to a potluck, or am hosting a soup exchange*, I always make sure to ask my participants if I need to be aware of any food restrictions they might have. This recipe for Sesame Peanut Noodle Bowls has become one of my favorites because it's can be made both gluten free AND vegan. Boom!
Who here has someone in their life who has jumped on the gluten free train? Or knows someone who is truly a celiac or has gluten intolerance? I know I sure do. While I’ll happily nom away on ALL the foods, I have a cousin who is a diagnosed celiac, and several friends who range the spectrum of celiac, gluten intolerant, and bandwagoners. If you’ve got a dietary restriction, no matter the reason, you deserve to eat deliciously too!
Enter Lotus Foods Millet Brown Rice Ramen Noodles, which Joe and I found on one of our aisle-by-aisle perusals of Costco. There are so dang many noodle alternatives these days with all kinds of main ingredients (Chickpeas! Regular peas! Lentils! Rice! Seaweed! Heart of Palm! The list seems as boundless as the creativity of the human mind!), and I’ve set out to try them all. This was my first encounter with a gluten free ramen noodle, and I was pumped to try them. I had an itch for my Sesame Peanut Noodle recipe, and I was about to scratch it.
These bad boys are not only gluten free, but also vegan and whole-grain, which meant that they gave me a lot of opportunity with my pickier friends and family*. Additionally, they cook super quickly, with al dente perfection coming in at just 4 minutes.
Side note: I often shoot it from the hip when trying new things, especially because certain things that I LOVE (I’m talking about you, Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi) for some reason have TERRIBLE instructions that actually renders them inedible. This is not one of those occasions.
The first time I made them, I wasn’t as keen on the texture as I was hoping. They ended up gummy and just…off. Then I went back and re-read the directions on the bag and realized I missed a crucial step - YOU HAVE TO RINSE THESE NOODLES AFTER COOKING. The second time I made them, I rinsed them with cold water as suggested and they came out beautifully.
Although this step might seem strange or counterintuitive if you’re trying to serve a hot dish, remember you can throw them back in a pan with whatever other items you want in a hot pan to warm them back up. They also worked fine in hot liquid after cooking, and warm to temp if you’re eating a bowl of soup. Just don’t let them continue cooking in the soup base because they tend to get soggy and fall apart.
All in all, if you’re looking for a ramen substitute that will satisfy any gluten free and vegan needs you might have, look no further. These are a great buy, especially when you get them from my beloved Costco. So, what to make with them?
My favorite thing to make with these noodles right now is this vegan gluten free Sesame Peanut Noodle Bowl. It is great warm, room temp, or even straight from the fridge, which makes it ideal for packed lunch. Without further ado, here’s how I do it. Per usual, this recipe includes possible substitutions and allows for your own inner chef to explore flavors in different ratios according to your tastes. Enjoy, and have fun!!
Sesame Peanut Noodles
- 1 lb noodle of choice (I used Lotus Foods Millet and Brown Rice Ramen)
- 1 drizzle hot sesame oil (or regular toasted sesame oil if you're not obsessed with spicy foods like we are)
- ¼ C soy sauce (use tamari for gluten free)
- 2-3 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1-2 tablespoon fresh ginger grated or minced
- 3 tablespoon peanut butter, tahini or combination of both
- 2-5 cloves garlic, minced to taste
- 2 teaspoon sriracha (optional)
- 2 teaspoon chili garlic (Sambal Oelek) (optional)
- 2 teaspoon agave nectar (optional)
- crunchy vegetables of choice
- toppings of choice
- Boil noodles of choice in salted water according to box directions and drain. (I use Lotus Foods Millet and Brown Rice Ramen on days I want to feel superiorly healthy. If you use this brand, BE SURE TO RINSE YOUR COOKED NOODLES AFTERWARDS!! Any other angel hair/ramen/linguini/spaghetti you have kicking around in the pantry will work just fine too!)
- To keep the noodles from sticking together, toss with a drizzle of hot sesame oil (regular sesame oil, peanut oil, even olive oil will achieve the same end. We just like foods nice and spicy over here.)
- Make sauce by whisking together in a small bowl:Soy Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Fresh Minced Ginger, Peanut Butter/Tahini, Fresh Chopped Garlic, Sriracha/Chili Garlic Sauce/Gochujang, Agave Nectar When all ingredients are whisked together, try a spoonful. Remember that it’s going to be a concentrated flavor when you try the sauce alone and that it’ll be diluted by the other ingredients. In my mind, this should taste akin to something you’d dip your potsticker/wonton/spring roll in…salty, vinegary, spicy, a little sweet, and kind of creamy. Now, do you like how it tastes? Great! If not, adjust accordingly before adding to the noodles.
- Toss the noodles in your delicious sauce. Stop here and eat, or, if you have more time, energy and ingredients move on to step 5!
- If you have them on hand, add in as many crunchy vegetables as your heart desires so you can eat the full rainbow! We like:Bell Pepper, sliced; Cucumber, seeded and sliced into short matchsticks; Carrot, either shredded or spiralized; Cabbage, shredded (I prefer red because it looks so beautiful, but green works fine too!); Sugar Snap Peas; Snow PeasNote here: I am perfectly happy throwing in all of these ingredients completely raw, but my husband prefers his veggies to be a little softer. On the occasions that he’s going to eat with me, I briefly sautee these additions (excluding the cucumber) in a bit of oil and a sprinkling of salt before adding them to the mix. If you want the noodles to be more like a salad and/or want one less dish to clean up, omit this step. Or be lazy like me and use the pot you boiled your noodles in.
- Add as many toppings that you like for extra flavor and crunch. I like Scallions, chopped; Fresh Basil, Thai if you’ve got it, regular if you don’t; Fresh Mint; Chopped Peanuts or Cashews; Toasted Sesame Seeds; TJ’s Ghost Pepper Flakes; Red Pepper Flakes; Nori Komi Furikake (a flavor shaker that has nori, which is dried seaweed and sesame seeds… this is also awesome on popcorn with some sriracha salt. There’s a ton of brands out there, and I haven’t come across one that I don’t like); Maruesu Tempura Crisps (another Costco find that’s a GEM. We eat these by the handful, as well as use them as a garnish any time we can. They are SO GOOD. Get you some!)
- Eat. Repeat. You know you want to.
*They unfortunately do not tick the Whole30/Paleo or Keto boxes
** Soup exchanges are an awesome way to stock your freezer while simultaneously talking about food with your pals!
- Buy a bunch of delitainers and labels (for title, ingredient list and date purposes) and distribute them to your participants.
- Have a google doc signup sheet of what everyone is bringing so you don’t end up with 10 versions of chicken noodle (although different versions are fun in their own right).
- Pick a time and a location. Whoever is hosting should have some kind of soup, a bunch of mugs or bowls, maybe some crackers and bread to nosh on while you hang out.
- However many soup containers each person brought, they get to take an equal number of soup containers home. Such an easy concept and so easy to execute! I did this both years of business school, and it meant that we all ended up with two weeks worth of lunch or dinner worked out for the low investment of making one big batch of whatever soup I wanted. SO FUN!
- Remember, cream based soups don’t freeze well, so eat them first and freeze other, sturdier soups instead.