Before cooking dinner, if we home cooks first examined the inventories of our pantries and refrigerators and used what we found there to make a meal, we would slash food waste in the home. Our grandmothers did this.
Today, many of us choose what to eat based on our whims—or our picky eaters’ demands! Let’s say you crave roasted chicken with figs and rosemary for dinner (maybe it’s your favorite dish at your favorite restaurant). Typically, you find a recipe, you make a list of the ingredients you need, you go to the grocery store to buy said ingredients, you come home and you cook the meal.
You now no doubt have in the refrigerator not only leftovers from the meal itself but also almost the entire quantity of rosemary you bought because the recipe called for only two tablespoons and you must buy an entire bunch at the store. You may also have half an onion in a bag and—if you saved them—a pile of chicken bones. These resources often languish in the back of the refrigerator until they rot, at which point they go to waste.
But with those few ingredients, you have the basis for pot of delicious soup. Top your soup with some croutons you make from stale bread, serve kimchi on the side that you fermented with a surplus of Napa cabbages your gardening neighbor gave you, and you have a satisfying meal rather than organic waste that releases methane gas into the atmosphere when it rots in a landfill—a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide.
Stir fry is a recipe easily adaptable to the vegetables you have on hand. Have one green onion or two mushrooms? Slice them and toss them in. Found a small head of broccoli in the crisper that you forgot about? In it goes, along with the leaves and stalk. Wondering what to do with that handful of spinach? It wants to be loved. In a stir fry. If you eat meat and you have bits of meat in the refrigerator, throw them in too.
I have been making lots of peanut sauce lately for stir frys. My younger daughter C loves the stuff and I’m able to add not only all those vegetables to her diet but also some protein along with them.
By the way, what is the correct plural term for “stir fry”? “Stir frys” has the same issue as “Toronto Maple Leafs.”
For the sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup somewhat vinegary kombucha (or dry sherry)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon sugar or to taste
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
OR get the quick and easy peanut sauce recipe here and use 1/2 cup or so of that instead.
For the stir fry
- 1 tablespoon oil or as needed (I have been using sesame oil lately)
- 4 cups various chopped vegetables, such as onions, carrots, celery, broccoli, bell peppers, mushrooms, green beans, bok choy, spinach and so on
- 1 handful of peanuts
1. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Heat the pan on high and add the oil.
3. If using spinach or bok choy, add it to the hot pan. Stir it around until it has wilted. Remove from pan and set aside.
4. Add more oil to the pan if necessary. Add the vegetables and stir constantly for about five minutes or until tender-crisp.
5. Add wilted greens, if using.
6. Add the sauce and stir for a couple of minutes until thickened. OR add 1/2 cup or more of peanut sauce and stir until heated through.
7. Stir in peanuts.
8. Serve with rice.