This is one of my all-time favorite main dishes. It’s easy, it’s quick, it looks great, it’s healthy and it’s flexible depending on which veggies you have on hand. Please note: I tend to meander a little when composing recipes, so I’ve bolded all of the ingredients so you can scan down and see what you’ll need before launching into the text.
This version uses sweet potato sticks (aka noodles), which are available at any Asian market. But really, any noodle (wheat, soba, kamut, spelt, white rice, brown rice, carrot, spinach, green bean… you get the idea) or rice (jasmine, basmati, brown, red…) will do, the only difference being that I’d recommend not adding the rice to the stir-fry like you would the noodles (use it as a bed for the veggies instead). Hell, you can really go nuts and use quinoa or couscous if you want to push the fusion envelope.
Start off preparing the noodles or rice first. The rice will tend to take 20 minutes if it’s a white rice, or up to 45 minutes if it’s a brown rice. I’ll let you decide how much to make, but I’m a big fan of cooking once and eating twice. That means you should make a lot, use what you need for a particular recipe, then tuck whatever remains into one of the myriad of reused soygurt or EarthBalance vegan butter containers littering your tupperware cupboard. If you’re using rice noodles, make sure you drain and thoroughly douse them with cold water to stop the cooking process a minute or two before they’re actually ready. This will prevent soggy noodles, which is critical to achieving full deliciousness.
While the noodles are on the go, chop (either julienne or diagonal slivers; avoid rough chunks for this dish… it’s just not zen):
- 1-2 carrots depending on size
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 small head of broccoli (and go at least halfway down the stem… that part’s still nice and tender)
- 1 small bok choy or half of a large head (spinach or even romaine lettuce will do in a pinch. Yes, hot lettuce is edible – who’d a thunk it?! The point is use a dark green, leafy veggie)
- 1 package of tofu (or 1 cup of edamame if you don’t have tofu on hand)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic depending on how obsessed with garlic you are
- 2-3 green onions (optional)
Any veggie will do in a pinch, so don’t be shy and try different themes (e.g. sweet potato, parsnips, turnips, carrots and kale for a wintery stir-fry). For an added punch of protein, feel free to toss in about half a cup of oven-roasted almonds or cashews.
Warm up about 1 tbsp of coconut oil (or any other oil of your choice, avoiding oils with low burning points) on medium-high heat and add your finely chopped garlic and green onion. Keep them moving lest they burn (which tastes awful). Once they’re fragrant, add the tofu and brown it. Add the “harder” veggies first (carrots, broccoli, celery, etc.) and sauté for a minute or two before adding in the “softer” veggies (zucchini, bok choy, spinach, kale, etc.).
Once the veggies have cooked for another minute, add in the noodles and stir to mix. Shaking the wok while working the middle of the noodles to break them up usually does the trick. Add 3-4 shakes of vegetarian stir-fry sauce (I’ll post a homemade version at some point, but for now the commercial variety ain’t half bad, so let’s go with that) which usually amounts to about 3-4 tbsp depending on how strong your shakes are. Stir it in. Add about a tsp of rice wine vinegar, followed by 1 tbsp of roasted sesame oil (or more if you love it as much as I do), and about 2/3 cup veggie broth. If you like a thicker broth, make sure to add 1 tsp of cornstarch or arrowroot powder to the veggie broth in a well-sealed jar before adding. This will let you shake it with what yo’ mamma gave you and ensure a nice velvety coating. Stir, stir, stir. Add about 2-3 tbsp soy sauce and, if you’re in a bit of a sweeter mood, 1 tbsp hoisin sauce (optional). Stir, stir, stir, shake, shake, shake.
When the veggies have brightened in colour and are at the peak of crispy-yet-done, ring the dinner bell, because you’re ready to eat!