There’s a misconception that eating a vegan or plant-based diet is really expensive, but my grocery bills have actually dropped since I more or less became a “weekday vegan.”
Don’t get me wrong: There have been a few weeks where my tab ran a little higher as I relied on specialty vegan ingredients like dairy-free cheese, Miyoko’s cultured vegan butter and pre-made meals. In the end, it’s still cheaper than eating meat multiple times a week — especially at this moment in time.
It’s taken a little mental reconfiguring to adjust my expectations for how I think my plate should look. Growing up, meat was most often the star of the show. Vegetables and grains played second fiddle — and it’s still easy to default to that mindset.
Recently, my best meals are the ones that involve taking a couple of simple ingredients — such as cheap quick-cooking ramen noodles and frozen vegetables — and finding ways to elevate them to make them the star of the show. This cold noodle salad is the perfect example.
The noodles and vegetables are enrobed in a rich, nutty dressing. Whipped until thick and luxurious, it’s made from coconut milk, lime juice, miso, tahini, and sesame oil. Since this salad is packed with edamame and peanuts, you get a nice serving of protein, too.
Recipe: Coconut-Tahini Cold Noodle Salad
- 9 ounces (three 99-cent packets) ramen noodles
- 7 ounces (1/2 standard can) full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 1 lime, juiced
- 4-5 tablespoons scallions, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup shelled, cooked edamame
- 1/4 cup spinach, frozen or fresh
- 1/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts, chopped
- Neutral oil
- Salt and pepper
- Optional: sesame seeds or furikake for garnish
Cook the ramen noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain and run the noodles under cold water, then set them aside.
In a small food processor, combine the coconut milk, tahini, white miso, sesame oil and lime juice. Pulse until the mixture takes on a thickened, dressing-like consistency. (You can also do this by hand with a whisk and a little elbow grease.)
Transfer the coconut dressing to a large bowl, then set it aside.
In a small pan over medium heat, add a glug of neutral oil and the spinach. Cook until heated through, then remove from the heat. Drain the excess water from the spinach — and there will be some! — by wrapping it in a dish or paper towel and squeezing.
Add the spinach, scallions and edamame to the dressing, followed by the cooled ramen noodles. Mix until the noodles are completely coated with the dressing and the edamame, scallions and spinach are uniformly distributed throughout the dish.
Garnish with the roasted, salted peanuts and an extra sprinkle of sesame seeds or furikake, if desired.
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