Time for another double duty dinner. This one is not such a high scorer (reminder of the game rules here) because I repeat the exact same dish a few times. But that is because we like it so much just as it is. It is a special favourite for my kids. The soy sauce and ramen noodles add some salt, but you can offset that by packing a lot of vegetables into it. As with many of my meals, I make it more by taste than measurements, so change up amounts on the dressing to your taste, and add or change veggies as you like.
NOTE: I will give two sets of directions for day one. The first set is for making the salad by itself. The second set is for when you want to make the double duty set of meals.
Day one: Cabbage Noodle Salad. This is a meal salad that we eat on its own. I used to try and put out accompaniments to it, but the kids just filled up on the salad so now we just eat big bowls of it on day one. It is also a quick, inexpensive no-cook meal so there aren’t any messy pans to clean.
1 head of cabbage
1 package vegetable ramen noodles
1 bunch green onions (or more- we like lots)
1 or 2 bell peppers (or more)
1 cup snap peas or snow peas
1 cup fresh bean sprouts or other fresh sprouts
Optional- other veggies as desired: shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms, etc.
1/4-1/2 cup of unsalted sunflower seeds
1/4-1/2 cup of unsalted slivered almonds
Optional- other nuts or seeds: cashews, sesame seeds, etc.
1/2-3/4 cup soy sauce (low sodium if desired)
1/2-3/4 cup vinegar (white or rice)
1/8-1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
Black pepper to taste
1 cup (or more) dry chow mein noodles
Directions #1 (for making the salad alone. This makes a HUGE salad, so if you follow these directions it can feed a large group of people, or perhaps you could take half of this salad for a potluck and save the other half at home):
-Slice up or shred all the veggies and toss them together in a bowl.
-Take the flavouring package out of the ramen noodles, crush the noodles, and put them in a bowl with the nuts and seeds.
-Mix the soy sauce, vinegar and oil, stir in the flavouring package from the ramen noodles, add pepper, and shake up the dressing.
– When ready to serve, add the noodles/nuts mix to the veggies, toss with the dressing, and top with the dried chow mein noodles. The salad will be crunchy and delicious when first served. Later the noodles will absorb the dressing and will be soft and salty. Both ways are delicious. If you are doing the potluck, take half of the noodle/nut mix and half of the dressing to toss at the potluck, and save half at home. (In this case you may want to use the larger amounts for the dressing so you have enough for both salads).
Directions #2 (Double Duty Dinners– almost enough for the week, for a family of 2 or 3). The meals will be:
Day 1: dinner- cabbage salad.
Day 2: lunch- cabbage salad, dinner- salad rolls.
Day 3: lunch- salad rolls, dinner- Chinese(ish) food with chow mein.
Day 4: lunch- Chinese(ish) food, dinner- Asian cabbage soup.
-Chop the cabbage as above, but divide it into thirds. Add 2/3 to salad bowl number one, and the other third to a second bowl or container to seal and refrigerate
-Chop most of the green onions, snap peas and any hard vegetables and add 2/3 to bowl number one, 1/3 to container number two. Close up container two and refrigerate. (Do not add soft veggies like bean sprouts, chopped peppers, or mushrooms to container two- they will wilt and go mushy).
-Chop enough soft veggies (peppers, mushrooms, etc) for bowl one and also add the fresh sprouts to bowl one. (When ready to serve for dinner- add 2/3 of the noodles/nuts, 2/3 of the dressing, and some chow mein noodles. Refrigerate the other 1/3 dressing and save 1/3 the noodles/nuts).
Dinner is prepped for day one, and there will be enough salad to use the leftovers for day two lunch and dinner as well. (if you have a larger family, you can serve some bread or other accompaniments with the salad so that there is some left over for tomorrow’s chow mein).
But you have more prep work to do if you’re playing the DDD game:
-Slice up more peppers, green onions, carrots, and any other veggies you want (I like to add some matchstick radishes for a bit of heat). Slice them *very* thinly- these will be used in salad rolls and you don’t want to puncture the rolls. I have a nice divided container that I use for these, but you can simply stack them side by side in any container and refrigerate.
-While I am at it, I just clean and sort the rest of the veggies I have, so they can be used for snacks and thrown into lunches as desired. Children are much more likely to grab veggies as a snack if there are always containers of them cut to bite sizes, and I’ll be more likely to throw a few into other dishes if they are cleaned and ready to go. Extra prep time now saves you time during the week.
– After you prep the meal salad, be sure and put some into containers for lunch the next day. The noodles will be soft when you eat it at lunch. For people who really like the crunch, you can take another small container of chow mein noodles on the side to add on top just before eating.