You Only Need Two Trader Joe’s Ingredients to Make This
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Instant noodles are one of my favorite convenience foods. They’re cheap and quick to make, and you can add all sorts of stuff to them bulk them up. Instant ramen is the most ubiquitous, but anyone who’s been to an Asian grocery store knows that there’s a whole world of instant noodles out there, and not all of them are soupy.
Trader Joe’s has (somewhat) recently entered into the non-soup instant noodle game with their Squiggly Knife Cut Style Noodles, which they describe as “delightfully chewy” and a “craveable, umami-laden noodle canvas that’s prime for partnering with your favorite protein and veggies.” They’re a big hit on TikTok, though a few reviewers have said they’re a little on the bland side and need more saucing.
I grabbed a 4-pack of the noodles because they boasted 12 grams of protein per serving, over twice as much as what you’ll usually find in a pack of dehydrated wheat noodles. They are delightfully chewy, and while I wouldn’t describe them as “umami-laden,” they’re pleasantly savory and do in fact act as a “noodle canvas” on which to paint your masterpiece. Add a little soy sauce, chili oil, fermented hot sauce, and/or MSG, and they’ll be umami-laden in no time. (I do want to note that while all of the ingredients listed on the package of noodles seem to be vegan-friendly, Trader Joe’s does not label them as such.)
An easy way to bulk the noods with even more protein is to add meat, tofu, or a poached or fried egg, but I grabbed a bag of another new (or new to me, at least) TJ’s product—their Meatless Ground. (Meatless ground what, exactly? Peas.)
The “ground” refers to dried texturized pea protein, which can be rehydrated and heated in 10 minutes to make soft, savory crumbles meant to stand in for ground meat in your favorite veganized recipes. On their own, they taste like they were seasoned with a chicken-flavored ramen seasoning packet, which I find pleasing. And while they definitely don’t feel like true ground meat on the teeth, they could easily slide into a mess of nachos, vegan cottage pie, or any other recipe that calls for ground beef but obscures it with lots of other creamy, cheesy, or salty ingredients.
For less than $10, you can get a bag of Meatless Ground and a pack of Squiggly Knife Cut Style Noodles. There are four 24-gram servings in a bag of Meatless Ground, and each serving contains 15 grams of protein. Each bag of squiggly noodles contains four packages of noodles. I think you can see where I’m going with this. The noodles take four minutes of boiling to get to that “delightfully chewy” spot, and the ground requires a mere 10 minutes of steaming. Factor in the amount of time it takes to bring water to a boil, and you’re looking at 15 minutes.
All of this translates to a filling vegan noodle bowl with 27 grams of protein that will cost you $2.50 and can be ready in a quarter of an hour, and doctored to suit your palate. As someone who often arrives home from the gym on the verge of hangry, this is great.
You can add a little peanut butter powder, spoon on chili crisp, shake on MSG, or swirl in the hot sauce. You can also add any leftover roasted vegetables you have hanging out in the fridge, and sprinkle on sliced scallions, sesame seeds, dehydrated caramelized onions, or fried garlic. You can even add an egg and get a rich, jammy yolk involved. You have a lot of options, is what I’m saying.
All you have to do to assemble your noodle bowl is prepare each item according to the package instructions. Once cooked, divide the meatless crumbles into four portions, set one portion aside for your current noodle bowl, and store the rest in the fridge (until your next noodle bowl). Prepare the noodles and toss with the sauce packet, then add the crumbles and toss to combine. (Do not add the crumbles and then sauce; they will absorb all the sauce, leaving none for your noods.) Doctor and garnish with any add-ins you desire or require, and enjoy.
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