Simple additions make a meal of instant ramen

Intent on maximizing weekend fun in fine weather, I planned activities around my kids, instead of in the kitchen.

So a day of romping in playgrounds and through hands-on children’s exhibits until dinnertime concluded as such days occasionally must: with fast, filling food, preferably of the genre that keeps kids’ spirits high until bedtime. I told a friend who accompanied the expedition that he was welcome to join us for a “very simple meal” of macaroni and cheese with raw veggies on the side.

“Like, Annie’s macaroni and cheese?” he asked. “Out of the box?”

Yep. The very same. And given that it’s his preferred brand, too, I knew he’d feel right at home.

At least I didn’t offer Top Ramen, which I recall discovering at my grandparents’ house, where it must have appealed to my high-school and college-age aunt and uncle. Simmered with that thirst-inducing seasoning packet, it never looked like the noodle dish on the package. But that’s not hard to do. Just add a few veggies to the boiling water and garnish with bits of green onion.

If you want a meal that incorporates all the food groups, add an egg and, of all things, a slice or two of American cheese! Blame the unlikely addition on Los Angeles chef Roy Choi who grew up eating it with that bit of fusion flair.

The following recipe was included in a handful of dinner suggestions for nights when cooking simply isn’t in the cards, courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Tribune News Service photo

Perfect Instant Ramen

3/4 cup broccoli florets

1 pack ramen noodles with flavor packet (save on sodium by using 1/2 packet)

1 large egg

1/2 tablespoon butter

2 slices American cheese

1/4 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

1/2 scallion, green part only, thinly sliced on the bias

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the broccoli and cook for 2 minutes. Add the noodles and cook for 2 minutes. Add the flavor packet and continue to cook 30 more seconds.

With broth at a low simmer, carefully crack the egg into broth. Do not stir; pull noodles over egg and let sit for 3 minutes to poach.

Transfer everything to a serving bowl, add the butter, cheese and sesame seeds, and mix everything all together. Garnish with the sliced scallion.

Makes 1 serving.

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