Test Kitchen: Vegetable Fried Rice

By Caroline Patrick, Graduate Nutrition Student

HALT—don’t toss that old rice!
Did you know that fried rice actually originated as a solution to leftover rice and other odds and ends found in the refrigerator? Thus, there are countless versions of this tried and true dish that include both meats and/or vegetables. Fried foods get a bad rep—and often they deserve it. But, there’s always a way to turn these bad guys into nutritious and just as delicious alternatives.  Making the healthy choice doesn’t have to mean locking up your fried favorites. This fried rice recipe will only make you  feel like you’re breaking the law.

Vegetarians know the look of concern when questioned on their protein consumption—”How do you ever get enough?!” The key to vegetarian success is optimizing your protein intake. This recipe optimizes protein content with 12g per serving making it a perfect meal for herbivores of the world.  So there’s no need to question, “where’s the beef?”

Adapted from The Kitchn’s  “Cooking Lessons,” this recipe was modified to become Sargent Choice-eligible by substituting brown rice for white. Another sneaky health culprit is sodium. For most individuals sodium intake should be limited to ½-1 teaspoons per day, which is a lot less than the average American who consumes almost double this amount. Consequently, it’s important to cut back on this unwelcome pest wherever possible. We swapped in low-sodium soy sauce and use ginger, garlic, scallions and red pepper flakes to pack some serious gusto sans added sodium!

Instead of using cold cooked rice as the recipe called for, we used freshly made rice that was still warm.  This altered the texture, making it stickier and more moist than typical fried rice. Next time I would try it with day old rice to taste the difference. Regardless, this recipe really stuck with the students providing us with an awesome alternative to the classic.

Final Verdict: Take your leftovers to another level, and try this protein-packed dish. You will be surprised about how good you feel eating fried food.

Sargent Choice Vegetarian Fried Rice
Recipe adapted from Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, defrosted
½ cup fresh or frozen peas, defrosted
½ cup chopped scallions
1 cup shelled edamame, defrostedVegetarian Fried Rice
4 cups cooked brown rice, cooled
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 large egg, beaten
¼ cup toasted nuts or sesame seeds (optional)

Equipment:
14-inch flat-bottom wok or saute pan
Fish spatula or other thin, flexible spatula for stir frying

Directions

1.  Cut up the Ingredients: The most important key to making a good stir-fry is cutting each ingredient to a uniform size as specified above. You will need 4 small bowls. Mince the garlic and ginger and set aside in a bowl with red pepper flakes (aromatics). Dice the carrots and set them aside in 2nd bowl. Place corn, frozen peas and edamame in 3rd bowl. Place rice and scallions in 4th bowl.

2.  Prepare Your Wok Space:  Place the 4 bowls of vegetables, rice, aromatics as well as soy sauce near your stove. Also, have a very small bowl of water next to the stove.

3.  Heat the Wok: Turn on a stove burner, as high as it will go. Set a 14-inch wok over this high heat burner. To determine when the wok is hot enough, start flicking droplets of water from the small bowl into the pan after 30 seconds. As soon as a bead of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact, the wok is heated and ready for stir-frying. Do not overheat the wok.

4.  Pull Wok off the Heat:  Pull the wok off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Pick up the pan and carefully swirl it to coat the bottom and sides. Place wok back on the heat, and add ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Stir fry for 10 seconds or until fragrant.

5. Add the Carrots and Stir-Fry:  Add the carrots and stir fry for 30 seconds, or until the carrots are bright orange.

6. Add the Corn and Peas and Stir-Fry:  Add the corn and peas and stir fry for 1 minute.

7. Add 1 More Tablespoon Oil:  Swirl the remaining tablespoon of oil into the wok.

8. Add the Rice and Scallions and Stir-Fry for 2 Minutes:  Add the rice and scallions stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up the rice with the spatula until it is heated through.

9. Season the Rice:  Season the rice with the salt and pepper.

10. Add the Sauce:  Pour the soy sauce around the edges of the wok and stir-fry.

11. Finish the Rice:  Stir in 1 beaten egg. Stir-fry until the egg is no longer wet. Add the nuts or sesame seeds if using.

Tips:

  • If you don’t have a wok, you can use a 12-inch stainless skillet; halve the recipe to prevent rice from falling out of the pan.
  • You can substitute up whatever vegetables you have on hand or like best in place of the carrots, frozen corn, and frozen peas.
Nutrition per serving
Calories 240
Fat 8.5 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Protein 12 g
Carbohydrate 33 g
Fiber 3 g

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