How Giada De Laurentiis Doctored Up Her College Ramen

There are many reasons why instant ramen is perhaps the most iconic college meal around. For one, it's cheap, as any broke university student can tell you. It's also ridiculously easy to prepare, using one cooking appliance that most students are allowed to have in their dorm rooms: the mighty microwave. In a few minutes, you have a hot, tasty, and filling meal. Even television personality, chef, and cookbook author Giada De Laurentiis has a soft spot for this instant product.

During her time at college, De Laurentiis lived like most other students: in a dorm room with multiple roommates, eating plenty of cheap instant ramen. But far be it from the "Everyday Italian" star to add the seasoning packet to her noodles and be done with it. De Laurentiis enjoyed adding ingredients that made the soup taste like a bowl of pasta. Speaking to First We Feast in 2016, the chef said she would add some "herbes de provence mix, grate in some parm, and either rip up some arugula or add some peas," adding that she adores instant noodles. She also shared that part of her obsession with ramen sprang from the fact that she wasn't allowed to eat packaged foods growing up, so this was partly her way of rebelling, which is also a college rite of passage.

De Laurentiis chose ramen over fast food every time

Another popular vice among college-goers, particularly those who have newly moved away from home, is fast food. Young adults with small budgets are free to indulge in curly fries, budget tacos, and quarter pounders at will. But Giada De Laurentiis admits that fast food was never appealing to her. Instead, she boiled her beloved ramen on her electric stovetop and then opted for Oreo cookies (another forbidden childhood treat for the chef) for dessert. As far as campus cafeteria food, De Laurentiis told First We Feast that she "hated it," which undoubtedly helped feed her ramen habit.

Eventually, De Laurentiis left the United States to attend culinary school in Paris at the famous Le Cordon Bleu, then returned home, where she took positions at the Ritz Carlton and Wolfgang Puck's Spago in Beverly Hills. She eventually launched her own catering company and was later discovered by the Food Network. With her forte being Italian cuisine, you won't find any ramen recipes in the chef's various cookbooks, but several of her pasta recipes include arugula and peas, just like her go-to university meal.

Doctoring up your own ramen

Japanese Ramen has come a long way in America. While at first, Americans were mainly familiar with the packets of dried noodles and seasoning you can pick up for pocket change, authentic ramen with hand-pulled noodles, rich homemade broth, and dozens of toppings is now a culinary superstar. Whether you're working with the packaged kind or a homemade version, there's countless ways to doctor up ramen.

First, try adding nori (seaweed) to your noodle soup, which imparts a unique, savory flavor that completely transforms otherwise plain ramen. If this is all you add to packaged ramen, it will already taste ten times better. As far as toppings go, you can pretty much raid your refrigerator and add whatever sounds good to you. Soft-boiled eggs, braised pork, and sliced scallions are classic choices. Other popular elements are bean sprouts, mushrooms, pickled ginger, and bitter greens (like mustard greens). Leftover steamed vegetables, bacon, shrimp, and kimchi also bulk up the soup. Finally, you can finish off your bowl with sesame oil, chili crisp, or fried garlic chips, an ingredient that Giada De Laurentiis would surely approve of.