If there's one thing I suspected and confirmed while participating in the Meatless Supper Club, it's that there are no gourmets in our family. We like simple food. Spice is welcome, but only with the adult members of the family. 'Quick and easy' are also appreciated most of the time. That's why this week I'm vegetarianizing an old stanby: fried rice. I used to think this was a dish only a restaurant could make, and then after I met my husband he demystified it. I found that once I knew a few tricks of the trade (such as Minute Rice isn't really rice), I too could fry rice like a pro, and that our home-made version is lower fat than restaurant versions, low cost and a fail-safe, go-to meal in our house. Typically, we make fried rice at least once a week because rice is our main starch and inevitably you have leftovers. That's key. You need day old rice, not fresh. Here's our house fried rice:
Fried Rice with Bacon (D'oh! I forgot -- this is the Meatless Supper Club)
Fried Rice with Tofu
4-5 cups cooked day old rice (I used a mix of white and brown)
2 scrambled eggs
7 oz. firm tofu, cut into small squares
1 cup carrots, cut into small bite-size pieces
1 cup peas
cooking oil (I used canola, peanut and sesame)
Start with prep. Chop the carrots into bite-size pieces. Squeeze out extra water from the tofu, using about half of a regular 14 oz. package, then cut it into small cubes. Pan fry the tofu in a few tablespoons of oil (I used peanut oil, hoping that would give a little extra flavor but mostly only made my kids plug their noses). Remove the tofu from heat, once it's golden brown around the edges. In a big saute pan, scramble two eggs, and when they're done, add to the tofu and set aside. Put the carrots and peas in a dish with a bit of water (the carrots I used fresh, and the peas frozen), and micro-steam to soften. Once done, drain the water.
Once the prep work is complete, squirt a bit of canola or cooking oil into a big saute pan, and fill with day-old rice. Use a spatula to break up the sticky chunks of rice, and as it heats, stir fry it around. Once it's heated through and de-chunked, pour some soy sauce onto the rice in the form of a letter 'Z' that fills the pan (this is just enough soy sauce for us, but use as much as you like). Then stir fry that until it's evenly distributed through the rice (I usually put in a few drops of sesame oil too for flavor, but this is optional). Now the rice is done, then it's pretty much just like tossing a salad. Add in the veggies, and stir fry to evenly distribute, then the egg, and finally the tofu until it's all mixed up. Voila! I kept my sides simple and served this with a plate of cut apples.
On serving this meal, I kept waiting for the kids to say: 'where's the bacon?' but they did not! I'll note that in our house, bacon isn't a pig product -- we only use 'pig-urky' (our name for turkey bacon). Yet by taking the meat out of our regular fried rice, we brought the meal even further down on the food chain. This meal was enthusiastically gobbled up, and they asked for seconds and licked their plates clean. One final note on fried rice -- it can be made with anything, and it's an ideal low-meat meal if you have leftover chicken, pork chops, steak or whatever. Play around with the veggies and proteins to find the mix that you like.
It's hard to believe that it's the last week of our meatless challenge. The time went fast, but as one of our bloggers mentioned what an interesting seasonal transition it's been -- when we started we were still working with summer squash, tomatoes and basil, and slowly we've moved to warm and soul-soothing soups, winter squashes and casseroles. Without further ado, let's see what our guest bloggers have dished up for our final week of the EnviroMom Meatless Supper Club.