The greens have started slacking off, at least a little, and this week in Farmer Kev’s bin I received, among other things, broccoli, cucumbers, zuchinni, salad turnips, and summer squash. I was thrilled by this bounty as it will feed Clif and me for nearly a week. (Naturally, we’ll fill in with rice, pasta, wraps, and herbs from my little garden.)
The first meal I’ll be making from some of these vegetables is fried rice, a dish so open to improvisation that it’s something all home cooks should have in their repertoire. A recipe is hardly needed. Take whatever vegetables you have on hand, add either garlic or onion or both, combine with rice, add a couple of eggs, and finally season generously with soy sauce and sesame oil. Minced ginger root could also be used.
I’ve made fried rice with cabbage, endamame, peas, green beans, carrots, broccoli, and peppers. The pictures below were taken a couple of weeks ago when I got carrots and sugar snap peas in my Farmer Kev bin.
I usually make a vegetarian fried rice and add peanuts to give it a little zip. However, leftover meat could also be used.
A few tips: vegetables such as broccoli, sugar snap peas, endamame, and shelled peas should be lightly cooked first. I blanch the sugar snaps and lightly steam the rest. Carrots and turnips can be stir fried raw, but they should be started first. Next would come peppers, if you are using them. Basically, save the vegetables that cook the quickest for last, with garlic being the absolute last thing added before the rice goes in. You do not want the garlic to burn.
The most invaluable tip: When adding beaten eggs, make a large well in the center of the rice and vegetables, and let the eggs cook long enough so that you can then scramble them into the rest of the mixture. Add a little soy sauce to the rice before adding the eggs, and add more soy sauce, along with sesame oil, to the mixture after the eggs have been scrambled in. How much soy sauce and sesame oil? In truth, I don’t know. I never measure. I just shake in the soy sauce and sesame oil and taste. However, I use more soy sauce than sesame oil.
Another important tip: Have everything mise en place, as the French would say. That is, ready in place. Before starting, cook the rice and whatever vegetables that need to be steamed or blanched. Make sure all the vegetables are in little bowls by whatever skillet or wok you will be using. Have the rice handy as well as the beaten eggs, the peanuts, the soy sauce, and sesame oil. Once everything is chopped and ready, this dish goes together very fast, and you want to be able to move quickly.
- 1 cup of rice, cooked according to directions on the package. (You should have about 2 cups of cooked rice.)
- 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, minced. (A small onion also could be used instead of or in addition to the garlic.)
- 4 or 5 cups of mixed vegetables. (In the fried rice pictured, I also used garlic scapes.)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Soy sauce and sesame oil, to taste
- Vegetable oil for stir frying
- Cook the rice, mince and chop the vegetables, parboiling or steaming whatever needs to be cooked ahead of time. (Don’t overcook. They will cook more in the stir fry.)
- Have everything in place, including the peanuts, soy sauce, and sesame oil. (For those who like it hot, a hot oil could also be used.)
- In a large skillet or wok, heat 2 or 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. When the oil is hot, start with whatever vegetables take the longest to cook, ending with the blanched or steamed vegetables, and finally the garlic. Pretty much stir the vegetables constantly so that every thing is moving around.
- When the vegetables are cooked, add the rice and shake in a small amount of soy sauce to give everything a little moisture. Stir again.
- Make a well in the center of the rice and pour in the beaten eggs.
- Let the eggs cook until they are set and scramble them in with the rest of the mixture.
- Add the peanuts, if using.
- Season to taste with soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir thoroughly.
- Serves four.