This crunchy, sweet and sour salad has been a big hit in my family for more than 30 years

Ramen noodles, green onions and broccoli crowns up the crunch factor of this romaine salad

By Bibi Hutchings


Published August 21, 2022 5:30PM (EDT)

Crunchy Noodle Salad (Courtesy Bibi Hutchings)
Crunchy Noodle Salad (Courtesy Bibi Hutchings)

In "Bibi's Gulf Coast Kitchen," columnist Bibi Hutchings takes you on a culinary journey across the coastal south. Come for the great food writing, stay for the delicious recipes.

Grammy, my dad's mom, was a gifted cook and baker. She was very well known for her cakes, particularly her award-winning caramel cake, but her everyday cooking was incredible, too. 

My memories of Grammy are inextricably tied to the aromas, flavors and sounds that came from her kitchen. I remember, like it was yesterday, waking to the clink of silverware and clack of dishes being stacked. Within minutes of opening my eyes, the smell of breakfast led me like a zombie down the hall to the kitchen, where homemade biscuits were coming out of the oven or pancakes were being plated. There was bacon, sausage, eggs, coffee, juice, homemade jams, jellies, preserves — and it was amazing

The thing was, Grammy made it all look so easy. I realize now, as an adult, what a gift she had, making everything look that simple. Not that we didn't help, but Grammy managed everything mostly single-handedly and actually seemed to gain energy having us there. She never complained and never appeared tired, even when she hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas for all of us, which numbered around eight adults and six children. I'll tell you, Grammy drank her share of coffee, iced tea and Tab, though. So, I believe she stayed well-caffeinated. 

I think back to being at Grammy's house in the summer with my sister and our cousins six of us in all, spanning about 10 years from oldest to youngest. Even as kids, we loved everything she made. None of us ever had to be cajoled into eating our peas or finishing our squash or anything else she served. We loved it all: breakfast, lunch and supper.

Whether it was a simple weekday meal or a big holiday dinner, other than her homemade baked goods, most everything Grammy cooked came out of her garden and was either freshly picked or put up from the previous year. From childhood to adulthood, we all loved the simple goodness of her food.

So, how did Grammy come to make this seemingly avant-garde salad? I mean, it had Ramen noodles and soy sauce in it for crying out loud, two things I wouldn't have expected to find in her pantry. 

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Grammy was introduced to this salad by her friend, who had contributed it to the Junior League of Jackson, Miss., to use in their cookbook. She gave Grammy a copy of the cookbook when it was printed and encouraged my grandmother to try her salad. It soon became a family favorite.

In fact, Grammy shared the recipe with my step-mother, Carolyn, who began sharing it with her people in Hattiesburg, Miss., which is where my sister and I had it for the first time. It was much later, after Grammy had passed away, that we learned Carolyn had gotten the recipe from her. That made us like it even more. 

There are similar Asian-inspired salads that include sautéing uncooked Ramen noodles, but this one is our family's favorite by far. Oftentimes, these recipes have additional ingredients that aren't as universally loved by all, such as shredded cabbage, sprouts or a gingery dressing.

We think this one is just right. I mean, it's perfect. It's the one Grammy made.   


Ramen noodles

Don't get the Ramen noodles that come in a styrofoam container. Choose the ones that come in a little pack so you can discard the enclosed flavor packet. 

The dressing

The dressing makes this salad, but it's strong. In fact, the original recipe calls for equal parts sugar and oil. I use a little less sugar in mine, which is shared here. 

The original recipe also instructs you to dress the salad before serving so that it wilts a bit and it's great that way. The problem is that I usually have leftovers and don't want the noodles to lose their crunch. I like to dress individual salads to keep leftovers fresh and allow folks to choose the amount they like.


This crunchy, sweet and sour salad has been a big hit in my family for more than 30 years. The flavor is exceptional and just different enough to be distinctive. You'll crave it all year round.

Grammy's Crunchy Romaine Salad
8-12 servings
Prep Time
30 minutes
Cook Time
5 minutes


  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 package Ramen noodles, uncooked, broken up, flavor packet discarded
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bunch broccoli crowns, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 heads romaine lettuce, broken up
  • 4 green onions, chopped small


  1. Sauté the walnuts and Ramen noodles in butter until fragrant and browned. Set aside to cool.

  2. Place the lettuce in a serving bowl and top with the broccoli and green onions, as well as the cooled walnuts and noodles.

  3. Toss the salad with the dressing before serving.

Sweet and Sour Dressing
2.5 cups


  • 1 cup salad oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Blend all ingredients.

Cook's Notes

My tip for the dressing — which is not in the original recipe and can be used in any vinegar and oil type of dressing — involves molasses. Add a tablespoon of molasses to keep the dressing from separating.

You may also serve this salad without dressing and allow self-serve of individual salads. I prefer this method, as the dressing is very strong. For me, a little goes a long way.

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By Bibi Hutchings

Bibi Hutchings, a lifelong Southerner, lives along a quiet coastal Alabama bay with her cat, Zulu, and husband, Tom. She writes about the magical way food evokes memories, instantly bringing you back to the people, places and experiences of your life. Her stories take you all around the South and are accompanied with tried-and-true recipes that are destined to become a part of your memory-making as you share them with your friends and family.         

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Bibi Hutchings Food Noodles Ramen Recipe Salads Sweet And Sour Vegetarian