This spring our community chorus trundled off to Winthrop to join with CODA Chorus in a concert. CODA, a Winthrop-based community choir, had been out to the island in late April, and as always we gave them a potluck supper after the music and sent them home on the water taxi. So they returned the favor with a lovely supper for us before we returned home.
I love going to potlucks, and here in my hometown, I always find favorite things made by neighbors. What was really fun about being treated to a Winthrop potluck was meeting a whole new bunch of dishes. There was a terrific haddock casserole, and a nice rice and wild rice salad with grapes and chicken in it, and pumpkin pies, and hot chicken casserole, and on and on.
And there was this interesting salad made with Chinese cabbage and a dressing with sesame seeds and little bits of ramen noodles. With some help from her fellow choristers, I tracked down the maker, Deb Petell of Wayne and asked how she did it.
The recipe follows, and you will see that it is mostly the dressing that makes it so good. Among other bits of advice, Deb says to use a Napa or Chinese cabbage with as much green as you can find. She buys two packages of ramen noodles and throws out the seasoning packets.
One secret is to toast the noodles in an oiled pan until they are a warm brown color. Another is to hold the noodles and nuts until you are ready to serve then add them and the dressing at the last minute. This keeps the noodles from being soggy.
Oddly, I was convinced the salad had chicken in it, but it truly didn’t. I suppose chicken from some other dish on my plate must have migrated into the salad. Still, you could add chunks of cooked chicken or even cooked shrimp if you were so inclined.
This recipe makes a lot of salad, a nice alternative to slaw, enough for a big crowd. You can get up to sixteen servings, maybe more depending on what you have for side dishes, out of one big head of Napa cabbage (or some other, if you prefer) and for a smaller batch just halve it.