Salad crunchies could be the most under-rated way to up your salad game. Here’s why.
Have you ever wanted to top off a salad with something crunchy that wasn’t a crouton? Not a salty and calorie-laden commercial product, but rather a delightfully crisp and light little homemade sprinkle. Here’s my solution – baked noodles!
I came upon this idea when a friend asked me to help prepare a salad for a fundraiser. She wanted me to use a recipe that included baked ramen noodles. While that recipe wasn’t to my liking, the idea of baked noodles as a salad topping struck me as worth exploring.
After innumerable tries at various oven temperatures and times, I came up with 3 winners, all of which worked well and none of which took more than 10 minutes to bake.
It turns out that I didn’t have ramen noodles in my pantry, but I did have 4 other kinds of noodles:
- wide egg noodles, the same ones I use to make Jewish noodle kugel;
- wide lo mein noodles (in the pantry because I keep meaning to make lo mein); and
- wide rice noodles, a thicker version of the rice sticks that I use for summer rolls. I do intend to make homemade Pad Thai with them, and now that I’ve opened the package, that day should come sooner rather than later.
I decided to try all 4 types to see which ones would work as salad crunchies.
Servings – 4 Cost – $0.10
- 2 tablespoons of wheat or rice noodles, broken up into tiny pieces (See below for which types work. Hint – spaghetti doesn’t work.)
- ¼ teaspoon of butter and ¼ teaspoon of oil
- 2 pinches of kosher or sea salt
- Measuring spoons
- 2 small cups, 1 for noodles and the other for butter/oil or a small pan for the butter/oil
- Baking sheet with sides
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Break the noodles up into tiny pieces.
- Melt the butter (in the microwave or on the stove) and mix it with oil.
- Toss the noodles in the butter and oil. Add a pinch of kosher salt.
- Put the noodle pieces on a dry (not oiled or greased) baking sheet Bake them for 5-10 minutes depending on which type of noodle you use. (Egg noodles bake to a golden brown in 5 minutes, rice and lo mein noodles take about 10 minutes.)
- When are were done, drain the noodles on a paper towel to let a bit of the extra butter/oil drain off, as you would do with latkes, cornmeal-crusted okra, fried green tomatoes, and other dishes coated with butter/oil. Sprinkle on salad and serve.
Salad Crunchies Taste Test Conclusions:
- By far, my favorites were the egg noodles. They broke up easily, took the shortest time (5 minutes) to bake, and tasted great.
- My second favorites were the rice noodles. These crunchies are a great gluten free alternative to bread croutons. Not surprisingly, when I bit into them, they reminded me (in a good way) of rice cakes. Their crunch is a bit sharper than the egg noodle version, but still pleasing.
- Third place was the lo mein noodle experiment. The taste was fine, however I found the morsels less interesting because their flat shape didn’t have as nice a texture as the egg or lo mein noodles. Like the rice noodles, they took 10 minutes to turn golden brown.
The loser? Spaghetti noodles. They are just too hard and their shape doesn’t work for dry baking. Also, they burn easily.
Coming next week: a recipe using the crunchies in a simple salad with yummy dressing.
Have you tried any experiments in the kitchen lately?