Secret sauce turns 99 cent ramen into a gourmet cold noodle salad

There’s a misconception that eating a vegan or plant-based diet is very expensive, but my grocery bills have actually gone down since I more or less became a “weekday vegan.”

Don’t get me wrong: there were a few weeks where my tab grew a bit as I relied on specialty vegan ingredients like dairy-free cheese, Miyoko’s cultured vegan butter, and prepared meals. In the end, it’s still cheaper than eating meat several times a week, especially right now.

It took a little mental reconfiguration to adjust my expectations of how I think my plate should to see. Growing up, meat was most often the star of the show. Vegetables and grains played second fiddle – and it’s always easy to conform to that mindset.

Related: This One-Pot Chickpea Pasta Has the Most Enjoyable “Creamy” Sauce

Recently, my top meals have been ones that involve taking a few simple ingredients — such as cheap quick-cook ramen noodles and frozen veggies — and finding ways to elevate them to make them the star of the show. This cold noodle salad is the perfect example.

Noodles and vegetables are coated in a rich hazelnut vinaigrette. Whipped until thick and luxurious, it is made with coconut milk, lime juice, miso, tahini and sesame oil. Since this salad is loaded with edamame and peanuts, you also get a nice helping of protein.


Recipe: Cold noodle salad with coconut and tahini


  • 9 ounces (three 99-cent packages) ramen noodles
  • 7 ounces (1/2 standard can) whole coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini
  • 1 tablespoon of white miso
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 lime, juice
  • 4-5 tablespoons green onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame, cooked
  • 1/4 cup spinach, frozen or fresh
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, salted, chopped
  • Neutral oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: sesame seeds or furikake for garnish


  1. Cook ramen noodles according to package directions. Drain and run noodles under cold water, then set aside.

  2. 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, vinaigrette-like consistency. (You can also do this by hand with a whisk and a little elbow grease.)

  3. Transfer the coconut dressing to a large bowl, then set aside.

  4. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add a drizzle of neutral oil and the spinach. Cook until heated through, then remove from heat. Drain the excess water from the spinach – and there will be! — by wrapping it in a dish or paper towel and squeezing.

  5. Add the spinach, green onions and edamame to the dressing, followed by the cooled ramen noodles. Toss until the noodles are completely coated in the dressing and the edamame, scallions and spinach are evenly distributed throughout the dish.

  6. Garnish with the roasted and salted peanuts and an extra sprinkle of sesame seeds or furikake, if desired.

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