A quick and easy summery pasta dish, with twirly noodles, this Avocado Cherry Tomato Ramen Noodle Bowl with a zesty Lemon Vinaigrette is a delicious lunch or dinner.
Summer is so full of vibrant color and flavors, it’s hard to know where to turn first when grabbing for ingredients. But odds are good that I’ll always start with the tomato.
Heirloom tomatoes are my favorite — they come in high fashion colors and sport flavors that no grocery store cue ball has ever known. I’m growing a new-to-me variety this year called Blush that produces dozens and dozens and dozens of 2″ long, candle flame shaped tomatoes, pale yellow inside and out that blush with cheek-pinching spots of orange-red. They taste citrusy and tomatoey all at the same time, and they’re Christmas-tree gorgeous on the vine. (Here’s a photo of them on Instagram.)
See how pretty? Sliced in a bowl above, and freshly picked below.
In the summer, I really appreciate fresh, filling meals that come together in a snap, with bare minimum stove-time. And this cherry tomato ramen noodle bowl fits the bill perfectly.
Ramen noodles have a few things going for them compared to regular pasta. First — and foremost — they cook up in a flash: 3 minutes and done. No kidding.
They’re lighter than pasta — not as starchy — and combine well with chunky toppings like tomatoes and dices of avocado, neither overwhelming them with pasta-y bulk, nor causing them to sink to the bottom of the bowl. Ramen noodles are flavor sponges, too, so if you toss a bit of your sauce or dressing with the noodles first, your dish will be all the yummier.
And, they’re curly and twirly and fun. It’s impossible to be grumpy when you’re eating ramen noodles.
Whatever bad rap ramen noodles get is due to the flavor packet, which contains all kinds of stuff that it doesn’t take a scientist to suspect is bad for you.
Toss it. Immediately.
If you can find packaged ramen by itself, all the better. But don’t feel bad about using those economical packets of college-staple noodles. My cost for the ramen noodles in this recipe is 60 cents. 60 cents, 3 minutes of cooking. Now those are numbers this summer girl can get behind.
In fact, my total cost for this meal for was (assuming pantry staples, like olive oil and white wine vinegar):
Ramen noodles: $.60
$2.79 for 2 people! That’s why I love home gardening so much: half of the dish came from my own back yard. Cherry tomatoes are the easiest types of tomatoes to grow (and they do fabulously well in containers, for yard-challenged folks), and herbs like basil grow just about anywhere, from garden beds to containers on the porch rail to a small pot in your kitchen window.
When you have amazing ingredients like fresh cherry tomatoes and silky avocados, you don’t want to top them with just any ole bottled dressing.
Have you ever had or grown lemon basil? This is my first year growing lemon basil, and from the very first taste I was immediately regretful that, for all these years of gardening, I had limited my basil garden to only Genovese, Thai, and Red Opal.
If you love lemons and basil, as I do, lemon basil is the perfect combination of both. One bite and you go, “Oooo, lemon! Ooooooo, basil!” I don’t know how Nature does it, but man, she really rocks the party sometimes.
So, as soon as I had my avocado and cherry tomato ramen noodle bowl assembled, I knew it was just the right vehicle for my lemony lemon basil vinaigrette.
Lemon basil with sweet-tart lemon zest and a little honey creates a waaay delicious vinaigrette that’s super easy to whip up. I hope you can find lemon basil in your ‘hood, but if you can’t just sub regular basil and add a little more zest.
Now this, friends, is my idea of the perfect summer meal!
- 1 heaping teaspoon lemon zest (from about one large lemon)
- 2 teaspoons minced lemon basil (or 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet basil)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from large lemon or two small)
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more as necessary, to taste)
- 3 packages ramen noodles, flavor packets discarded
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced into disks or quartered wedges
- 1 tablespoon lemon basil or sweet basil, minced
- Add all ingredients to a small mixing bowl and whisk well. Set aside for at least a half hour, if possible, to let the flavors meld. Taste, and add more salt if needed, one pinch at a time.
- Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add the ramen noodles and reduce heat slightly to maintain an active simmer without boiling over. Cook for three minutes (or according to package directions). Drain in a colander and set aside to cool to room temperature (this takes just a few minutes).
- When the ramen noodles have cooled, toss them with one tablespoon of olive oil plus two tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Divide the noodles evenly between two entree-sized bowls. Top each bowl with half of the sliced tomatoes and avocados, and drizzle the remaining vinaigrette evenly over each. Garnish with minced basil.