Wednesday, April 27, 2011

everything but the kitchen sink stir fry

When I was growing up, my parents were firm believers in the clean your plate club. Essentially, I had to stay at the table until I cleaned my plate. One time my mom made stir fry and I mistakenly saturated it with Worcestershire sauce instead of soy sauce (hey, I was little and the bottles looked pretty stinking similar). I had to eat the. Entire. Thing. It was nasty. The thought of the cold, salty veggies still makes me a little queasy. Needless to say, I wasn't a major fan of stir fry for a while. It wasn't until college when I was short on cash and even shorter on time that I learned to love the stir fry.

I'm a big fan of one pot meals, and not just because I detest doing dishes. They are a quick and simple way to serve up some awesome food, and can be relatively economical if you're living on the cheap. Stir fries are an easy one pot meal and an excellent way to use up all your extra veggies. For example, you can make typical Asian stir fry with broccoli, carrots, snow peas, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, edamame, and even a handful of peanuts. Or, you can make Mexican stir fry with peppers, onions, black beans, corn, cabbage, and top with avocado. You can even make Italian stir fry, like my Italian sausage stir fry. You can serve stir fry as is, or atop rice, noodles, or quinoa. The possibilities are endless!

One stir fry I made recently that was super easy contained literally all of the veggies I had laying around. It was made of everything but the kitchen sink, baby, and boy was it tasty!

I threw the following in a large skillet with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil:
-1 cup chopped asparagus
-1/2 cup diced bell peppers
-1/2 cup diced onion
-1/2 cup frozen cubed butternut squash
-1/2 cup frozen sweet potatoes (I used sweet potato fries and cut them into smaller chunks, about 1" long)

-3 gloves of garlic, minced
-1/3 cup frozen edamame
-1 cup fresh spinach

If you're using a combination of fresh and frozen ingredients, start with the frozen ones first so that they have time to thaw. Also, always add greens like spinach last, because they wilt rather quickly.

I topped the stir fry with a bit of sliced avocado and some coarse sea salt. It was so good it didn't even need any sauce. Also, my meal was entirely plant based (vegan) and I didn't feel the slightest bit deprived. I think one key to embracing a more plant based diet is to combine really flavorful foods with a variety of textures, so that your senses stay intrigued. It felt like there was a party in my mouth.

Enjoy, and don't be afraid to get creative!

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