Why so many food posts lately?! I have no idea. Deal with it. Today: Fried rice, but you know, minus the gut bomb and growing regret part afterwards, and with way more veggies than the few wrinkly peas you see sometimes.
Fried rice always feels like a.) kind of a cop-out to order takeout and b.) the unhealthiest thing ever to eat, and attempts to make it at home (at least for me) always seem to end in…. a greasy disgusting mess of overly-salty rice mush. Gross.
HOWEVER. This is not always how it has to be! You are totally allowed to mess with concepts, like “what fried rice is.” Forget your notions of $3 greasy takeout and failed attempts to re-create it! Fried rice can totally be a meal in and of itself.
Like that huge coconut lentil stew I posted last week, wok-fried rice with plenty of tofu and veggies is another great, cheap way to feed a shit-ton of hungry people or just yourself for a week straight. And honestly, it’s surprisingly healthy, especially if you add a ton of veggies, use brown/wild rice, and keep the oil and sugary/salty sauces to a minimum. (Garlic and ginger go a long way for flavor, seriously.) And once you’ve stocked up on the seasonings (most people might not always have soy sauce and sesame oil and cilantro on hand, but, uh, I do) it’s super cheap and easy. It’s also really easy to adapt to vegan or gluten-free diets, or you can replace the tofu with shrimp, chicken, pork, or steak for your meat-eating friends.
The secret is all in the prep, which is also super easy and fast once you get the hang of it. As usual, sharp knives (and a perverse enjoyment of, say, “julienning peppers”) help a ton, and a really awesome nonstick/well-seasoned wok is absolutely necessary.
You’re gonna need:
Ready? OK, cool. Let’s go.
I like to pretend like every day I plan some amazing meal and go all-out to cook it, but the truth is most of the time I’m excruciatingly lazy and like, whip something together out of whatever is in my house. (Or just eat omelettes. I eat a lot of breakfast for dinner. I won’t tell if you won’t.) I was a little low on basics last week and as I desolately stared at the leftover vegetables, lentils, and coconut milk in my pantry, I remembered that Caroline posted a tasty-sounding lentil curry soup recipe a while ago, and I’d been all about some really tasty curried lentils I had at a dinner party a few weeks ago. I was also craving Indian or Thai takeout, but all the options that deliver to my house are super oily and not great. I figured I’d wing it and try to come up with something similar to all those things, with whatever I had in the house. Miraculously, it turned out to be maybe one of the tastiest things I’ve ever made (despite the rather unflattering photo) and is definitely going to become a staple.
It’s also vegan, for those of you who care about that kind of stuff, and is super healthy and full of protein and fiber and other good stuff, and even my super-carnivorous other half (“Meg, all the food you make is basically vegetable mush, I want a steak”) admitted that it was damn good. It’s also relatively cheap, and the huge pot that this recipe yielded fed me for like a week.
SO! Onward! You will need:
I’ve been trying to make an effort to cook at home and bring lunch to work more often, and as a result I’ve been spending my Sundays preparing giant bowls of salads that I can grab and go in the mornings. This lentil salad is one of my favourites — it’s spicy, sweet, refreshing, filling, and ridiculously easy to make (well, if you like chopping, which I totally do, OH GOD YOU GUYS I COULD JULIENNE PEPPERS ALL DAY THE BEST STRESS RELIEF EVER IS DICING CELERY I LOVE KNIVES.) We also already know about my near-obsessive ongoing love affair with fresh mint — and this is just another option for it before summer’s over.