Building Dinner

Have I mentioned how much I like noodle bowls? They are quick, versatile, beautiful, and fun to assemble. I love being able to mix and match ingredients I have on hand to make a new meal every time I put one together. And I love how they can range from highly complex to breath-takingly simple:

This rendition builds a foundation on a simple miso broth (choose gluten free miso to keep things gluten free), noodles of your choice, lightly steamed broccoli, and crisp beef crumbles. And you can leave it at that, if you choose. It's an amazing meal and is on the table in less than 20 minutes.

But, if you're in the mood to mix things up a bit, consider adding a few things to your bowl. Maybe some shredded carrots and black sesame seeds for a more dramatic, colorful bowl? Or some sweet and sour sauce and some thinly sliced radish for something with a wider flavor palate? Or perhaps you'd like to add a soft-boiled egg and a drizzle of teriyaki sauce to give your bowl an element of warmth? It's really up to you.

Noodle bowls really are meals in and of themselves. The one pictured above was enjoyed with a cold cider and that was it. If you were looking for a more involved meal, you could have summer rolls or egg rolls, but I'm really a fan of letting these fun bowls just stand on their own. It allows you to be in charge and a bit of a culinary artist. Enjoy!

Crispy Beef Noodle Bowls

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 T. honey
  • 10 c. water
  • 1-2 T. miso paste, depending on your taste
  • 10 oz. long noodles — choose anything from ramen to spaghetti to thick rice noodles
  • 1/2 lb. broccoli flowerets
  • Additional add-ins (optional - see note below)
  • Sriracha sauce (optional)
  • Additional condiments (optional - see note below)

Brown the ground beef over medium-high heat until it is well-browned. If needed, drain any extra liquid from the skillet and continue cooking the beef until it is very crispy. When it is nearly done, add the sesame oil and honey and stir until the meat is well-coated. If you are a fan of heat, try adding a teaspoon or two of crushed red pepper, too. Set aside.

Place the water in a stock pot and swirl in the miso paste. Continue stirring regularly while you bring the liquid to a boil. Adjust the amount of miso and add your noodles (choose gluten free options if you are avoiding gluten). Simmer the noodles until they are done to your liking. About halfway through cooking, lightly steam the broccoli.

To assemble the bowls, place a generous pile of noodles in the center of each bowl (tongs work well for this). Using a ladle, add enough broth to nearly cover the noodles. Arrange broccoli and crispy beef over the noodles and garnish with sriracha sauce and additional add-ins and condiments, if desired. Serve the bowls with bowl chopsticks and spoons for eating.

*Some notes about add-ins and condiments: Noodle bowls can be as simple or complex as you wish. The recipe above is a great starting place and amazing on its own (as pictured earlier in this post). However, if you wish to include other items, there are many, many options. Some of my favorite add-ins include:

  • sliced green onions
  • shredded carrots
  • thinly-sliced radish
  • soft-boiled eggs
  • zucchini ribbons
  • sliced hot peppers
Likewise, you can stop with sriracha sauce as the only condiment (or skip that, too). However, if you are looking for additional condiments, some of my favorites include:
  • fresh lime juice
  • soy sauce (or tamari sauce for gluten free cooking)
  • fish sauce
  • sweet and sour sauce
  • toasted sesame seeds
However you choose to dress your noodle bowl, enjoy it and know you can try something a little different each time, so this is the kind of recipe that is truly endless in form and variety.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

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