VEGGIE FRIED RICE BOWL
Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook
by Kim O'Donnel
We've all been there: Tonight's the night you've got just 20 minutes to put dinner on the table, and the box of cereal is looking better as the clock ticks.
With some cold cooked rice on hand (make a pot the night before), you can put that cereal to shame and whip up the bestest and fastest food there is.
Should greasy take-out containers come to mind, let it go. This version defies old stereotypes and delivers light, bright results, a wokful of colorful veg that still have their crunch and Chile peppers that still have their punch. In a hectic household, this dish is a dream, which is why it's earned year-round, go-to status in our kitchen.
KITCHEN NOTES: This dish requires cold cooked rice, so plan to make ahead, at least 4 hours in advance. Chop and prep all ingredients before even thinking of turning on the wok.
Makes three to four 2-cup servings
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• 3 teaspoons sesame oil
• 2 large eggs, beaten (Plan B: 1/2 cup toasted chopped cashews)
• 1/2 cup shallots, diced (about 2 bulbs)
• Fresh chile peppers, seeded and minced (Use what works best for your heat tolerance; I start with 1/2 teaspoon and add more depending on my mood.)
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 to 3 cloves)
• 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 carrots) or chopped fresh green beans
• 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
• 4 cups cold cooked rice (about 1 1/3 cups uncooked rice)
• 1 cup mixed celery, diced, and baby bok choy, chopped into 1-inch pieces, or use one or the other
• 1/4 cup soy sauce
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
Heat a wok (I use a 14-inch flat-bottomed variety) or deep skillet over high heat.
Place 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, and the eggs in the wok. Tilt the wok so that the eggs cover the entire surface, making it thin as a pancake. Cook for about 45 seconds; the egg will set quickly. With a thin-edged flipper or tongs, fold the egg in half and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into thin strips.
Add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil, followed by the shallots, chile pepper, and garlic and stir-fry for about 20 seconds. Add the carrots and bell pepper, lower the heat to medium, and stir-fry for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture begins to soften.
Add the rice and the celery mixture. With a wooden spoon, break up any clumped rice as needed. Add the soy sauce and stir well, and cook for an additional 3 minutes or so. Stir in the egg strips.
Turn off the heat. Stir in the cilantro, if using, and drizzle the remaining 2 teaspoons of sesame oil.
NOTE: You may make this dish without eggs. If so, eliminate the tea- spoon of sesame oil at the beginning of the recipe and proceed with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, going straight to adding the vegetables and aromatics. Stir in the cashews just at the end, before serving.