Vegetable fried rice recipe

When parents struggle with “what to make for dinner,” one tip I like to offer is to find a dish that everyone likes to eat when you go out, and try to make it at home.  Fried rice, however, is a food that I thought I could never make at home.  I don’t know why it seemed to be out of my cooking league and only something the family could enjoy on the three annual birthday trips to Benihana.  But the last time we were there for Mr. Picky’s birthday, I watched in amazement at what it took for our chef to make fried rice — not a lot!  I could make this at home!  I took mental notes of what was used on the griddle — cold rice, beaten eggs, a few vegetables, soy sauce and a curious creamy spread our chef told me was “garlic butter.”  Hmmm…..

Before I gave this a go at home, I needed to check around a bit to see if there was anything else I needed to know.  It seems that fried rice is actually pretty straightforward provided you do one very important thing — use cold, cooked rice.  Warnings abounded wherever I turned — one can never, ever, possibly even consider making fried rice with fresh rice otherwise you will have a mushy, disastrous mess.  One thing you need to know about me is that I am a naysayer.  Oh, really?  Well I need to see it to believe it.  And I that’s how I learned….never to use fresh rice when making fried rice because I’m here to tell you that you will indeed have a mushy, disastrous mess.

Fried rice is something that was invented in order to use up leftover rice and whatever bits of vegetables and meat you have from the night before.  It is eaten as a snack in China, never as a meal.  Don’t tell my kids, because they’re getting it as an entree.  When you add scrambled eggs, peas, shiitake mushrooms and broccoli to long-grain brown rice, you have yourself plenty of protein.  I often pack this the next day in a stainless thermos for the kids’ lunch and I have enjoyed it for breakfast as well.  It is actually the perfect little meal with protein, good carbs, and some fat for stable blood sugar and long-lasting energy.

Stir-frying anything requires all your chopping to be done in advance since things move so quickly.  You can get this out of the way as early as the night before, if you want.  If you have leftover rice and all your vegetables are prepped ahead, fried rice can be cooked in minutes.  Traditionally in China, the eggs are added with the rice so that the egg coats each grain of rice.  I do it a little differently since Mr. Picky doesn’t enjoy eggs yet.  I cook the beaten eggs in ghee (a clarified butter great for higher heat cooking) first and then remove them, chop them up and add them in at the end.  That way Mr. Picky can pick out all the egg easily.

You can really add whatever vegetables you have on hand and you certainly don’t need to use as many as I do. (The vegetables above were used in fried rice I made for a class where the recipe was doubled.)  The key is to dice everything pretty small, about the size of peas, although the broccoli can be slightly larger.  That way you can stir-fry them in the wok or pan and you don’t need to blanche them in a separate saucepan.  I like washing dishes as much as Mr. Picky likes eggs.  If your picky eater won’t go for brown rice, he’ll never know it here.  The shoyu is going to change the color of the rice to brown anyway.  To make this gluten-free, substitute wheat-free tamari and you’re all set.  Vegans can drop the egg, use all sesame oil and still enjoy a high-protein dish.  Don’t forget — Chinese New Year begins on February 3rd!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Vegetable Fried Rice
Serves: 6 as a side dish, 4 as a main
  • 2 Tablespoons ghee, divided
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil, plus more for drizzling if desired
  • 1 teaspoon grated or minced peeled, fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
  • Vegetables:
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • ½ cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • Handful of shiitake mushrooms, stems removed; caps wiped clean and diced
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into very small florets and stems diced, about 2 cups
  • 4 cups COLD, COOKED brown rice, preferably long-grain
  • 2 Tablespoons shoyu or more to taste (I tend to go more)
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
  1. Heat a wok or large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon ghee. Scramble the eggs in the pan until cooked through. Transfer the eggs to a cutting board and set aside.
  2. Add 1 Tablespoon sesame oil and 1 Tablespoon ghee to the wok. Saute the ginger, garlic and scallions until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the vegetables and sauté until softened. Add the rice and shoyu and toss everything around in the wok until heated through. Chop up the cooked eggs and stir into the rice. Taste for seasoning and add additional shoyu or sesame oil, if desired. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for fun!
If you are using leftover cooked vegetables or meat, dice them up and add with the rice.

I shared this recipe with Healthy Child, Healthy World!

Asian noodle salad recipe

Asian Noodle Salad | Pamela Salzman

Asian Noodle Salad | Pamela Salzman

I really don’t think anyone needs another way to get pasta into his or her diet, or peanut butter for that matter, but I can’t help myself here.  I taught this Asian noodle salad in a class last year and I still haven’t tired of it.  However, the pasta in this dish isn’t just your run-of-the-mill white flour spaghetti, which you certainly don’t need to eat any more of than you already do, but soba.  Soba noodles are a Japanese pasta made with buckwheat.  Most of the soba noodles I see in the markets are a wheat and buckwheat blend.  But you can find ones made with 100% buckwheat, which is not a wheat at all, but a seed related to the rhubarb plant.  Buckwheat also happens to be gluten-free, full of fiber and protein and contains a very cool compound called rutin which is helpful in lowering blood pressure.

Asian Noodle Salad | Pamela Salzman

If you are trying to limit your gluten, I would not only give you a pat on the back, but I would like to encourage you to try the all-buckwheat noodles.   Let me just forewarn you of a few things.  Be prepared for a much nuttier, more assertive flavor than a traditional noodle, almost earthy.  I will say, it works perfectly with a peanut sauce.  It is quite a bit more expensive, too, almost $8.00 for 8 ounces.  But more importantly, it demands a bit of babysitting when you’re cooking it.  There’s a gumminess that leaches into the cooking water that can foam up and overflow all over your stovetop in an instant.  One minute you’re stirring your pot diligently but you turn to your daughter to say, “how was your test today?” and the next minute you have a volcanic eruption that puts out the gas flame on your stove.  Not to discourage you or anything, I’m just saying this could happen to you if you’re not paying attention.

Asian Noodle Salad | Pamela Salzman

I love any recipe where I can work in a few more vegetables.  Here I went the basic route with some Napa cabbage, a few shreds of purple cabbage and carrots because not much else is in season right now.  But I have been know to add in raw red bell pepper strips and cucumber in the Summer and blanched asparagus and sliced raw sugar snap peas in the Spring (Mr. Picky’s favorite).  If you’re like me and you don’t think cilantro tastes like soap, you can chop a few sprigs and add that, too.  This makes a perfect dish to bring to a potluck since it can be made ahead of time and stays well at room temperature.  Your lunchbox radar should be going off right now — perfect for school lunches provided your school allows peanut products.  If you can’t eat peanuts, try this with sesame tahini or cashew butter instead.  For a gluten-free version, again, look for 100% buckwheat noodles and wheat-free tamari instead of the shoyu.

Asian Noodle Salad | Pamela Salzman

Chinese New Year is coming up on February 3rd, so look out for a few more posts before then to get you in the spirit!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Asian Noodle Salad
Serves: 6
  • ¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 Tablespoons creamy, natural peanut butter, preferably organic
  • ¼ cup shoyu or wheat-free tamari
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 8-10 ounce package soba noodles (or noodle of your choice)
  • 5 cups shredded Napa cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, julienned
  • Other add-ins, according to the season: thinly sliced scallions, sweet bell pepper, julienned cucumber, sugar snap or snow peas, rehydrated arame (sea vegetable)
  1. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, peanut butter, shoyu, sesame oil, rice vinegar, maple syrup, fresh ginger and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  2. Place the shredded cabbage in a colander in the sink.
  3. Cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions. Do not go check your email.
  4. Drain the noodles into the colander with the cabbage, which will just wilt the cabbage so you don't have to blanch it in another pot and have an extra thing to wash. Rinse the noodles and cabbage with cold water and shake the colander to drain everything really well. This is important so the dressing adheres to the noodles.
  5. Transfer the noodles and cabbage to a serving bowl. Add the carrots, dressing and any additional vegetables you like and toss well.