October 7, 2009

the weeknight stir fry

Saturday can't come soon enough. That's harvest day; my sister and I are heading to mom's house to pick leafy greens galore from my mom's garden; until the weekend comes, though (and for the last couple of weeks), it's nothing but grocery store organics to get us by.

If there's one thing I have learned in the last couple of weeks, it's that brown rice is truly indispensable as a kitchen commodity. After a long day at work, followed by a solid workout, Ryan and I both look for something healthy and filling that can be prepared in little to no time.

Enter the weeknight stir fry. I'm quickly becoming a pro, I think.

A few handfuls of vegetables, one cup of rice, and a little wok action yields a healthy and delicious meal. Discovering the versatility of lightly steamed and sauteed vegetables has been a boon for our tastebuds and our health alike; these one-dish meals are full of vitamins, minerals, and heart-healthy whole grains.

To make sure this can happen any night of the week, especially during deadline, I am learning to keep our refrigerator stocked with a variety of vegetables. Stir fry is my new go-to for using up remnants, too; anything and everything can make an appearance. A few extra peppers, some sliced mushrooms, broccoli stalks? Everyone's welcome! (Last week, I used broccoli stalks for the first time, cutting the thick rounds into thin discs that popped with flavor and crunch when tossed with the other veggies. I highly recommend it.)

Some of my favorite vegetables to use in stir fry are broccoli, carrot, scallion, onion, red pepper, carrot, mushroom, garlic, and green onions. In all, I probably chop up a pound and a half of veggies to stir fry.

A little oil (two tablespoons) goes in a hot wok, followed by minced garlic and chopped onions. About twenty seconds later, I throw in the veggies and add about 1/4 cup water to the mix, along with ground ginger.

Then, I cook the veg mix until Ryan thinks they're almost done ("The celery's still crunchy!"), at which point I pull all the veggies off the heat and dump 'em into our tomato-shaped Dutch oven. I normally cook the vegetables for about 15 minutes. They usually cook just a little bit more in the covered pot, but sometimes we have slightly undercooked vegetables for dinner. It happens.

Meanwhile, rice is cooking on the back burner. In about 20 minutes' time, a healthy and delicious dinner is on the table.

What I especially love about these stir fry dishes is that they make excellent leftovers. And boy, am I a fan of leftovers. Plus, they can be jazzed up even more by adding an egg (think stir-fried rice).

So stir fry is my new "thing." Hopefully by next week I'll be posting about delicious chard recipes....

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