Salads with Crunch!

Are you looking for a way to get more plant-based meals into your diet or to change up the monotony of nutrient-dull shredded iceberg?

These recipes give you a variety of yummy veggies and fruits that are packed with vitamins and are naturally low in calories. Each has its own salad dressing recipe, so you’re in charge of the sugar and sodium instead of being at the mercy of the grocery store aisle.

These salads get an added boost of crunch from a nut-and-ramen noodle topping. Each serving has only a small handful, so you’ll get tons of texture with minimal added calories. This topping adds a fun little something extra you didn’t know was missing from your grown-up salad bowl.

You won’t use the Ramen seasoning packets for these salads, so you can tuck them away in your spice drawer to use in other recipes or simply toss them out.

Fill your bowl with nutrient-rich veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds then top it off with a little WOW.

STRAWBERRY SPINACH SALAD

INGREDIENTS (Serves 6)

1 (3 oz.) pkg. ramen noodles, any flavor (you won’t use the seasoning packet)
¼ C. sliced almonds
¼ C. sunflower nuts
3 to 4 T. melted butter
6 T. sugar
¼ C. red wine vinegar
6 T. canola oil
¼ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. minced garlic
1 head Romaine lettuce
1 (5 oz.) bag baby spinach
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled & thinly sliced
1 C. grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400°. Slightly crush the noodles and toss them on a rimmed baking sheet with the almonds and sunflower nuts. Drizzle the butter over the top and stir to coat. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until nicely browned, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool while you make the dressing.

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and vinegar until dissolved. Add the oil, paprika, salt, and garlic. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tear the lettuce into bite-size pieces and put into a big bowl with the spinach, strawberries, and cheese. Toss to combine.

Divide into serving bowls and drizzle some dressing over each serving; sprinkle the cooled noodle mixture over the top.  

POTLUCK BROCCOLI SALAD

INGREDIENTS (Serves 8)

1 (3 oz.) pkg. Ramen noodles, any flavor (you won’t use the seasoning packet)
½ C. sliced almonds
⅔ C. canola oil
⅓ C. honey
⅓ C. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. soy sauce
¼ tsp. sesame oil
Pinch of salt and black pepper
1 (12 oz.) bag broccoli slaw
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen edamame (soybeans), cooked, cooled & shelled
½ C. thinly sliced green onions
1 (15 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425°. Coarsely crumble the noodles and place on a rimmed baking sheet with the almonds, spreading them out in an even layer. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove and set aside while you make the dressing and salad.

In a small bowl, stir together the canola oil, honey, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and black pepper; set aside.

In a big bowl, combine broccoli slaw, edamame, and green onions. Fold in the mandarin oranges and noodle mixture; add the dressing and toss everything together until well mixed. Serve immediately.

ORIENTAL CHICKEN SALAD

INGREDIENTS (Makes 12 cups)

4½ T. rice vinegar
4½ T. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
¾ C. plus 3 T. vegetable oil, divided
2 (3 oz.) pkgs. Ramen noodles, any flavor (you won’t use the seasoning packet)
1 (2 oz.) pkg. slivered almonds
1 chicken breast, grilled, shredded & cooled
1 head cabbage, chopped
¼ C. sunflower nuts
2 tomatoes, seeded & chopped
2 green onions, sliced

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper, and ¾ cup of the oil. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet. Crush the noodles and add to the hot oil; cook until very light golden brown, stirring occasionally. Add the almonds and cook until golden brown, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.

When ready to serve, combine the chicken, cabbage, and sunflower nuts in a big bowl. Stir in the cooled noodle mixture, tomatoes, and chilled dressing, tossing to coat. Sprinkle the green onions over the top and serve immediately.

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Cleaning Fresh Produce, With or Without a Salad Spinner

If you’re using a salad spinner, simply fill the colendar with produce, fill the the bowl with cold water, and swish the food. Dump the water and repeat this process until the water runs clean.

Take an extra step here if you’d like by filling the bowl again with water and adding a splash of white vinegar; rinse a few additional times. Dump the water and spin your produce to aid in drying and pulling out any remaining dirt.

Use a salad spinner to clean leafy greans and oher vegetables, sturdy fruits, and fresh herbs as well.

If you don’t have a salad spinner, simply place your produce in a big bowl and follow the directions above for cleaning. Remove the food from the bowl, spread evenly on a clean dish towel, and pat dry. 

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