Alex Guarnaschelli's Best Tips For Elevating Ramen - Exclusive

Instant ramen may not generally be known as a high-brow food, but this easy dish shouldn't be written off so quickly. In the new book "Cook It Up" by mother-daughter duo Alex Guarnaschelli and Ava Clark, Ava reveals that her celebrated chef mother practically lived off instant ramen during college. Obviously, times have changed since then, and the new book features a recipe from Clark that takes prefab ramen to the next level. In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Alex Guarnaschelli told us how she likes to elevate her own ramen.

"I like to add anything fresh," she explained, "whether it's scallions, onions, and garlic, whether it's a couple of carrots and some sliced celery from the bottom of your crisper drawer." Many of these items are ingredients people already have in their homes — and not only will they add color and flavor, but also texture.

And with color and texture in mind, Guarnaschelli said she likes to see what greens she has on hand as a quick addition. "I've added leftover salad greens in there. You always seem to have a handful of arugula or a pinch of spinach or something like that. I've even added chopped-up iceberg lettuce for texture," she said.

Ramen is a versatile base

The brilliance of instant ramen — and what makes it so easy to elevate — is just how adaptable it is. "That's the type of recipe where you go in your fridge and you're like, 'Oh, look what I'm going to use.' I don't know much that would be wrong there," Alex Guarnaschelli told us, and she further encouraged people to see what they have on hand. Not only is this a creative way to use up small amounts of leftovers, which reduces food waste, but it also keeps ramen an affordable and accessible option for those who need it. Plus, it allows home cooks to get creative and personalize meals to their own tastes.

For those worried about messing up and adding something that doesn't work, Guarnaschelli had some reassurances: "The umami nature of the ramen and those noodles [is] waiting for anything you're going to throw at it." Even creamy components, such as cream of mushroom soup and Kewpie mayo, have become popular additions thanks to TikTok. With ramen, each bowl of soup is a new opportunity, and it's hard to go wrong no matter what you have on hand to add in — whether fresh or leftovers.