Upon returning home from an adventure abroad, I noticed right when I walked in the door that Shane had eaten our stash of fancy ramen. When I confronted my husband about the case of the missing gluten-free, vegan ramen packets, he told me that he tried looking for them at the store, but Trader Joe’s didn’t have them.

“Well of course TJ’s didn’t have them,” I said as calmly as possible, pausing to take a deep, patient breath, “TJ’s doesn’t sell them.”

My dear reader likely already knows which fancy ramen I’m referring to, and you know it’s the one sold at Whole Foods. You know, the ramen by Lotus foods. So this morning I hopped on my bike, like all the cool kids in SF, and biked down to WF on Stanyan, the one closest to my house. (The younger ‘kids’ bombed past me in the park on their fixed gear bikes, while the wind and mist hit me straight in the face on your typical one-rung-below-mediocre-SF-“summer” day.)

Slightly damp and slightly chilled, I spied the multipack of fancy ramen up on the top shelf. I grabbed two of those, along with a 6-pack of mini-Pellegrinos and some other hefty canned items, all ideal when en route with a bicycle and small backpack.

Pretty famished when I arrived home, and slightly more damp and slightly more chilled, I set some water to boiling and danced around slicing avocados, some lemons, and some leftover kale salad from dinner from the night before. I realized my noodles were just about ready, so I tore open the fancy ramen packet with delight… and then realized that there was no seasoning packet.

No. Seasoning. Packet.  : (

The corners of my mouth went south, but I am both resilient and resourceful. I do not eat naked ramen noodles under any circumstances. Life is too short, and you are too creative! If you ever find yourself in a situation like this one, do the following. You’ll save your meal, and your mood, in 2 minutes flat. (Well, 2 minutes and however long it takes you to assemble your step ladder and climb up onto your counter tops, if you’re like me.)

Dig these out of the cupboard:

2 cups peanuts, raw

2 tbsp almond butter or peanut butter

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp tamari

dash of maple syrup, if desired for sweetness

filtered water

Combine ingredients in blender, adding in water 1 tbsp at a time until you get the peanut butter sauce however thick you want it, or as the food bloggers say, until you achieve desired consistency.  ; )

Often when I make peanut butter sauce for noodles, I will mess around with other optional ingredients like coconut milk, ginger, lime juice, or I’ll swap out the olive oil for coconut oil, and that’s all great, but I was limiting myself to 2 minutes, people!

Pour peanut butter sauce on top of drained ramen (or rice) noodles. I mixed the sauce into the noodles in the pan, because I wanted to keep the actual eating bowl clean and pretty for its picture.   : )

Top with some more raw peanuts and sesame seeds. Cilantro would have been a welcome addition, but I didn’t have any. Moving on. I usually squeeze lime juice onto Asian-themed noodle bowls, but, similar to the cilantro situation, I didn’t have any, but I had lemons. Just as delicious to bring some lightness to the dish. When life brings you lemons!

Anyway, if you’ve been following my websites over the past couple years, you’ll be safe—and correct—in assuming that this vegan dish is gluten-free and dairy-free. There may have been no seasoning packet (what’s with that, though?) but the meal ended up being exactly that— a meal, and not just a bowl of fancy ramen.

What do you put in your favorite Asian-style noodle bowl? Do you prioritize taste and presentation, or do you prioritize ease and quickness? And most importantly, where do you stand on the fancy ramen vs regular ol’ ramen spectrum? Please share your ramen and noodle bowl wisdom in the comments below! I must know!