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updated: Dec 04, 2010, 8:15 AM
By Leah Etling
This month I am testing recipes with the hope of putting together a fun and inventive all-vegetarian menu for my family this Christmas. Over the last few years, our dining table has drifted away from meat in a gradual but significant way. While I am not a confirmed non-meat-eater myself, I enjoy many meatless dishes and make them regularly.
As a result, this week I got reacquainted with my friend Mark Bittman, author of the great comprehensive vegetarian cookbook, "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian." His fried rice recipe had the colorful and festive qualities I'm looking for on a Christmas menu. By using a red bell pepper as one of the ingredients, I even ended up with a distinct red and green result.
Here's the ingredient list:
1 cup peas
3 tablespoons peanut or grapeseed oil
1 bell pepper, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 cup cubed tofu (optional, can substitute cashews)
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup minced ginger
3 cups cooked rice, basmati or jasmine
¼ cup wine, sherry, stock or water
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3-4 scallion tops, minced, or chopped cilantro to garnish
Cook rice according to package directions and reserve. (You'll see why I stress something so obvious in a minute.)
Heat wok with one tablespoon of oil; add the onion and bell pepper. Cook for about 5-7 minutes over medium heat.
Remove the cooked onion and pepper and add the tofu, if you are using it. Cook for another 5-7 minutes.
Remove to the same bowl as the onion and pepper and cook the peas. Remove.
Add another 2 tablespoons of oil and cook the garlic and ginger until fragrant. Then add the rice, about a quarter cup at a time, stirring and distributing the oil as you go. When all the rice is in the wok, add the two eggs in the center and scramble and mix with the rice.
Add the contents of your reserved bowl (onion, bell pepper, tofu, peas) and the ¼ cup wine or broth. Cook for one minute. Then add the soy sauce and sesame oil.
Now we get to the part where I admit that I can be a total idiot. After a long day of work (which started at 4:30 a.m. on this particular day), and rushing to get dinner on the table, I completely forgot to cook the rice ahead of time. I just threw it in the wok with everything else and kept on cooking. When I got to the last step I realized - wait a minute - this is not right. It's crunchy. And not in a good way. Oops.
Luckily this is a recipe where I was able to save it. I added about a cup and a half of water to the whole mess, put the burner on low heat, and boiled it off. End result - delicious, flavorful and completely edible (I did add a little extra sesame oil and soy sauce). So when I make it again for Christmas I'll do it right, and maybe it will be even better.
Got a great recipe I should add to my vegetarian Christmas menu? Add it to the comments section. Fun and festive are the only recommendations.
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